Advances in microfabrication and nanofabrication are opening new opportunities to investigate complicated questions of cell biology in ways not before possible. In particular, the spatial regulation of cellular processes can be examined by engineering the chemical and physical environment to which the cell responds. Lithographic methods and selective chemical modification schemes can provide biocompatible surfaces that control cellular interactions on the micron and submicron scales on which cells are organized. Combined with fluorescence microscopy and other approaches of cell biology, a widely expanded toolbox is becoming available. This review illustrates the potential of these integrated engineering tools, with an emphasis on patterned surfaces, for investigating fundamental mechanisms of receptor-mediated signaling in cells. We highlight progress made with immune cells and in particular with the IgE receptor system, which has been valuable for developing technology to gain new information about spatial regulation in signaling events.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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