Graphene oxide substrates with N-cadherin stimulates neuronal growth and intracellular transport

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Intracellular transport is fundamental for neuronal function and development and is dependent on the formation of stable actin filaments. N-cadherin, a cell–cell adhesion protein, is actively involved in neuronal growth and actin cytoskeleton organization. Various groups have explored how neurons behaved on substrates engineered to present N-cadherin; however, few efforts have been made to examine how these surfaces modulate neuronal intracellular transport. To address this issue, we assembled a substrate to which recombinant N-cadherin molecules are physiosorbed using graphene oxide (GO) or reduced graphene oxide (rGO). N-cadherin physisorbed on GO and rGO led to a substantial enhancement of intracellular mass transport along neurites relative to N-cadherin on glass, due to increased neuronal adhesion, neurite extensions, dendritic arborization and glial cell adhesion. This study will be broadly useful for recreating active neural tissues in vitro and for improving our understanding of the development, homeostasis, and physiology of neurons.

Chenfei Hu