Journal article

Integration column: microwell arrays for mammalian cell culture

Microwell arrays have emerged as robust and versatile alternatives to conventional mammalian cell culture substrates. Using standard microfabrication processes, biomaterials surfaces can be topographically patterned to comprise high-density arrays of micron-sized cavities with desirable geometry. Hundreds to thousands of individual cells or cell colonies with controlled size and shape can be trapped in these cavities by simple gravitational sedimentation. Efficient long-term cell confinement allows for parallel analyses and manipulation of cell fate during in vitro culture. These live-cell arrays have already found applications in cell biology, for example to probe the effect of cell colony size on embryonic stem cell differentiation, to dissect the heterogeneity in single cell proliferation kinetics of neural or hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell populations, or to elucidate the role of cell shape on cell function. Here, we highlight the key applications of these platforms, hopefully inspiring biologists to apply these systems for their own studies.

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