Networks of interacting cells regulate the biology and pathology of all mammalian tissues, including positive–negative selection in adaptive immune responses, tumor–stromal–vascular interactions during cancer progression and stem cell-niche interactions during development and adulthood.
Within these intercellular signalling networks, the relative number and spatial organization of diverse cell types contributes to the behavior of the system as a whole. The capacity to reconstitute in vitro these networks of interacting cells, or cell communities, would offer new insights into the logic and dynamics of collective cell-decision making.
To investigate the logic and dynamics of cell–cell signalling networks, researchers prepared heterotypic cell–cell interaction arrays using DNA-programmed adhesion.
The platform specifies the number and initial position of up to four distinct cell types within each array and offers tunable control over cell-contact time during long-term culture.
Authors use the platform to study the dynamics of single adult neural stem cell fate decisions in response to competing juxtacrine signals. The results suggest a potential signalling hierarchy between Delta-like 1 and ephrin-B2 ligands, as neural stem cells adopt the Delta-like 1 phenotype of stem cell maintenance on simultaneous presentation of both signals.