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Myoblast fusion into functionally distinct myotubes, and their subsequent integration with the nervous system, is a poorly understood phenomenon with important applications in basic science research, skeletal muscle tissue engineering, and cell-based biosensor development. We have previously demonstrated the ability of microelectrode arrays (MEAs) to record the extracellular action potentials of myotubes, and we have shown that this information reveals the presence of multiple, electrophysiologically independent myotubes even in unstructured cultures where there is extensive physical contact between cells (Langhammer et al., Biotechnol Prog 27:891-895, 2011). In this paper, we explore the ability of microscale topographical trenches to guide the myoblast alignment and fusion processes and use our findings to create a substrate-embedded MEA containing topographical trenches that are able to direct myotube contractility to specific locations. By combining substrate-embedded MEA technology with topographical patterns, we have developed a lab-on-a-chip test bed for the non-invasive examination of myotubes.


Christopher G Langhammer, Melinda K Kutzing, Vincent Luo, Jeffrey D Zahn, Bonnie L Firestein. A topographically modified substrate-embedded MEA for directed myotube formation at electrode contact sites. Annals of biomedical engineering. 2013 Feb;41(2):408-20

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PMID: 22956161

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