Intracellular transport is fundamental for neuronal function and development and is dependent on the formation of stable actin filaments. N-cadherin, a cell–cell adhesion protein, is actively involved in neuronal growth and actin cytoskeleton organization. Various groups have explored how neurons behaved on substrates engineered to present N-cadherin; however, few efforts have been made to examine how these surfaces modulate neuronal intracellular transport. To address this issue, we assembled a substrate to which recombinant N-cadherin molecules are physiosorbed using graphene oxide (GO)or reduced graphene oxide (rGO). N-cadherin physisorbed on GO and rGO led to a substantial enhancement of intracellular mass transport along neurites relative to N-cadherin on glass, due to increased neuronal adhesion, neurite extensions, dendritic arborization and glial cell adhesion. This study will be broadly useful for recreating active neural tissues in vitro and for improving our understanding of the development, homeostasis, and physiology of neurons. Statement of Significance: Intracellular transport of proteins and chemical cues is extremely important for culturing neurons in vitro, as they replenish materials within and facilitate communication between neurons. Various studies have shown that intracellular transport is dependent on the formation of stable actin filaments. However, the extent to which cadherin-mediated cell–cell adhesion modulates intracellular transport is not heavily explored. In this study, N-cadherin was adsorbed onto graphene oxide-based substrates to understand the role of cadherin at a molecular level and the intracellular transport within cells was examined using spatial light interference microscopy. As such, the results of this study will serve to better understand and harness the role of cell–cell adhesion in neuron development and regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-423
Number of pages12
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Cadherin
  • Graphene oxide
  • Intracellular transport
  • Neurons
  • Reduced graphene oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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