Osteoblasts exhibit a more differentiated morphol. on surfaces with rough microtopogs. Surface effects are often mediated through integrins that bind the RGD motif in cell attachment proteins. Here, we tested the hypothesis that modulating access to RGD binding sites can modify the response of osteoblasts to surface microtopog. MG63 immature osteoblast-like cells were cultured on smooth (Ti sputter-coated Si wafers) and rough (grit blasted/acid etched) Ti surfaces that were modified with adsorbed monomol. layers of a comb-like graft copolymer, poly-(L-lysine)-g-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLL-g-PEG), to limit nonspecific protein adsorption. PLL-g-PEG coatings were functionalized with varying amts. of an integrin-receptor-binding RGD peptide GCRGYGRGDSPG (PLL-g-PEG/PEG-RGD) or a nonbinding RDG control sequence GCRGYGRDGSPG (PLL-g-PEG/PEG-RDG). Response to PLL-g-PEG alone was compared with response to surfaces on which 2-18% of the polymer sidechains were functionalized with the RGD peptide or the RDG peptide. To examine RGD dose-response, peptide surface concn. was varied between 0 and 6.4 pmol/cm2. In addn., cells were cultured on uncoated Ti or Ti coated with PLL-g-PEG or PLL-g-PEG/PEG-RGD at an RGD surface concn. of 0.7 pmol/cm2, and free RGDS was added to the media to block integrin binding. Analyses were performed 24 h after cultures had achieved confluence on the tissue culture plastic surface. Cell no. was reduced on smooth Ti compared to plastic or glass and further decreased on surfaces coated with PLL-g-PEG or PLL-g-PEG/PEG-RDG, but was restored to control levels when PLL-g-PEG/PEG-RGD was present. Alk. phosphatase specific activity and osteocalcin levels were increased on PLL-g-PEG alone or PLL-g-PEG/PEG-RDG, but PLL-g-PEG/PEG-RGD reduced the parameters to control levels. On rough Ti surfaces, cell no. was reduced to a greater extent than on smooth Ti. PLL-g-PEG coatings reduced alk. phosphatase and increased osteocalcin in a manner that was synergistic with surface roughness. The RDG peptide did not alter the PLL-g-PEG effect but the RGD peptide restored these markers to their control levels. PLL-g-PEG coatings also increased TGF-b1 and PGE2 in conditioned media of cells cultured on smooth or rough Ti; there was a 20* increase on rough Ti coated with PLL-g-PEG. PLL-g-PEG effects were inhibited dose dependently by addn. of the RGD peptide to the surface. Free RGDS did not decrease the effect elicited by PLL-g-PEG surfaces. These unexpected results suggest that PLL-g-PEG may have osteogenic properties, perhaps correlated with effects that alter cell attachment and spreading, and promote a more differentiated morphol. [on SciFinder (R)]