A high-throughput cell microarray platform for correlative analysis of cell differentiation and traction forces

Kerim B. Kaylan, Andreas P. Kourouklis, and Gregory H. Underhill. “A high-throughput cell microarray platform for correlative analysis of cell differentiation and traction forces.” Journal of Visualized Experiments 121: e55362. March 2017.


Microfabricated cellular microarrays, which consist of contact-printed combinations of biomolecules on an elastic hydrogel surface, provide a tightly controlled, high-throughput engineered system for measuring the impact of arrayed biochemical signals on cell differentiation. Recent efforts using cell microarrays have demonstrated their utility for combinatorial studies in which many microenvironmental factors are presented in parallel. However, these efforts have focused primarily on investigating the effects of biochemical cues on cell responses. Here, we present a cell microarray platform with tunable material properties for evaluating both cell differentiation by immunofluorescence and biomechanical cell–substrate interactions by traction force microscopy. To do so, we have developed two different formats utilizing polyacrylamide hydrogels of varying Young’s modulus fabricated on either microscope slides or glass-bottom Petri dishes. We provide best practices and troubleshooting for the fabrication of microarrays on these hydrogel substrates, the subsequent cell culture on microarrays, and the acquisition of data. This platform is well-suited for use in investigations of biological processes for which both biochemical (e.g., extracellular matrix composition) and biophysical (e.g., substrate stiffness) cues may play significant, intersecting roles.

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I am an MD/PhD student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. My doctoral work focused on tissue engineering approaches to study stem and progenitor cell fate in the developing liver. Learn more.



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