Showing 1 - 23 of 23 results
Self-Regulated and Bidirectional Communication in Synthetic Cell Communities.
Cell-to-cell communication is not limited to a sender releasing a signaling molecule and a receiver perceiving it but is often self-regulated and bidirectional. Yet, in communities of synthetic cells, such features that render communication efficient and adaptive are missing. Here, we report the design and implementation of adaptive two-way signaling with lipid-vesicle-based synthetic cells. The first layer of self-regulation derives from coupling the temporal dynamics of the signal, H2O2, production in the sender to adhesions between sender and receiver cells. This way the receiver stays within the signaling range for the duration sender produces the signal and detaches once the signal fades. Specifically, H2O2 acts as both a forward signal and a regulator of the adhesions by activating photoswitchable proteins at the surface for the duration of the chemiluminescence. The second layer of self-regulation arises when the adhesions render the receiver permeable and trigger the release of a backward signal, resulting in bidirectional exchange. These design rules provide a concept for engineering multicellular systems with adaptive communication.
A disordered tether to iLID improves photoswitchable protein patterning on model membranes.
Reversible protein patterning on model membranes is important to reproduce spatiotemporal protein dynamics in vitro. An engineered version of iLID, disiLID, with a disordered domain as a membrane tether improves the recruitment of Nano under blue light and the reversibility in the dark, which enables protein patterning on membranes with higher spatiotemporal precision.
Orthogonal Light-Dependent Membrane Adhesion Induces Social Self-Sorting and Member-Specific DNA Communication in Synthetic Cell Communities.
Developing orthogonal chemical communication pathways in diverse synthetic cell communities is a considerable challenge due to the increased crosstalk and interference associated with large numbers of different types of sender-receiver pairs. Herein, the authors control which sender-receiver pairs communicate in a three-membered community of synthetic cells through red and blue light illumination. Semipermeable protein-polymer-based synthetic cells (proteinosomes) with complementary membrane-attached protein adhesion communicate through single-stranded DNA oligomers and synergistically process biochemical information within a community consisting of one sender and two different receiver populations. Different pairs of red and blue light-responsive protein-protein interactions act as membrane adhesion mediators between the sender and receivers such that they self-assemble and socially self-sort into different multicellular structures under red and blue light. Consequently, distinct sender-receiver pairs come into the signaling range depending on the light illumination and are able to communicate specifically without activation of the other receiver population. Overall, this work shows how photoswitchable membrane adhesion gives rise to different self-sorting protocell patterns that mediate member-specific DNA-based communication in ternary populations of synthetic cells and provides a step towards the design of orthogonal chemical communication networks in diverse communities of synthetic cells.
Cell to Cell Signaling through Light in Artificial Cell Communities: Glowing Predator Lures Prey.
Cells commonly communicate with each other through diffusible molecules but nonchemical communication remains elusive. While bioluminescent organisms communicate through light to find prey or attract mates, it is still under debate if signaling through light is possible at the cellular level. Here, we demonstrate that cell to cell signaling through light is possible in artificial cell communities derived from biomimetic vesicles. In our design, artificial sender cells produce an intracellular light signal, which triggers the adhesion to receiver cells. Unlike soluble molecules, the light signal propagates fast, independent of diffusion and without the need for a transporter across membranes. To obtain a predator-prey relationship, the luminescence predator cells is loaded with a secondary diffusible poison, which is transferred to the prey cell upon adhesion and leads to its lysis. This design provides a blueprint for light based intercellular communication, which can be used for programing artificial and natural cell communities.
Spatiotemporal Control Over Multicellular Migration Using Green Light Reversible Cell–Cell Interactions.
The regulation of cell–cell adhesions in space and time plays a crucial role in cell biology, especially in the coordination of multicellular behavior. Therefore, tools that allow for the modulation of cell–cell interactions with high precision are of great interest to a better understanding of their roles and building tissue‐like structures. Herein, the green light‐responsive protein CarH is expressed at the plasma membrane of cells as an artificial cell adhesion receptor, so that upon addition of its cofactor vitamin B12 specific cell–cell interactions form and lead to cell clustering in a concentration‐dependent manner. Upon green light illumination, the CarH based cell–cell interactions disassemble and allow for their reversion with high spatiotemporal control. Moreover, these artificial cell–cell interactions impact cell migration, as observed in a wound‐healing assay. When the cells interact with each other in the presence of vitamin B12 in the dark, the cells form on a solid front and migrate collectively; however, under green light illumination, individual cells migrate randomly out of the monolayer. Overall, the possibility of precisely controlling cell–cell interactions and regulating multicellular behavior is a potential pathway to gaining more insight into cell–cell interactions in biological processes.
Multistimuli Sensing Adhesion Unit for the Self-Positioning of Minimal Synthetic Cells.
Cells have the ability to sense different environmental signals and position themselves accordingly in order to support their survival. Introducing analogous capabilities to the bottom-up assembled minimal synthetic cells is an important step for their autonomy. Here, a minimal synthetic cell which combines a multistimuli sensitive adhesion unit with an energy conversion module is reported, such that it can adhere to places that have the right environmental parameters for ATP production. The multistimuli sensitive adhesion unit senses light, pH, oxidative stress, and the presence of metal ions and can regulate the adhesion of synthetic cells to substrates in response to these stimuli following a chemically coded logic. The adhesion unit is composed of the light and redox responsive protein interaction of iLID and Nano and the pH sensitive and metal ion mediated binding of protein His-tags to Ni2+ -NTA complexes. Integration of the adhesion unit with a light to ATP conversion module into one synthetic cell allows it to adhere to places under blue light illumination, non-oxidative conditions, at neutral pH and in the presence of metal ions, which are the right conditions to synthesize ATP. Thus, the multistimuli responsive adhesion unit allows synthetic cells to self-position and execute their functions.
Orthogonal Blue and Red Light Controlled Cell-Cell Adhesions Enable Sorting-out in Multicellular Structures.
The self-assembly of different cell types into multicellular structures and their organization into spatiotemporally controlled patterns are both challenging and extremely powerful to understand how cells function within tissues and for bottom-up tissue engineering. Here, we not only independently control the self-assembly of two cell types into multicellular architectures with blue and red light, but also achieve their self-sorting into distinct assemblies. This required developing two cell types that form selective and homophilic cell-cell interactions either under blue or red light using photoswitchable proteins as artificial adhesion molecules. The interactions were individually triggerable with different colors of light, reversible in the dark, and provide noninvasive and temporal control over the cell-cell adhesions. In mixtures of the two cells, each cell type self-assembled independently upon orthogonal photoactivation, and cells sorted out into separate assemblies based on specific self-recognition. These self-sorted multicellular architectures provide us with a powerful tool for producing tissue-like structures from multiple cell types and investigate principles that govern them.
Bioluminescence-Triggered Photoswitchable Bacterial Adhesions Enable Higher Sensitivity and Dual-Readout Bacterial Biosensors for Mercury.
We present a new concept for whole-cell biosensors that couples the response to Hg2+ with bioluminescence and bacterial aggregation. This allows us to use the bacterial aggregation to preconcentrate the bioluminescent bacteria at the substrate surface and increase the sensitivity of Hg2+ detection. This whole-cell biosensor combines a Hg2+-sensitive bioluminescence reporter and light-responsive bacterial cell-cell adhesions. We demonstrate that the blue luminescence in response to Hg2+ is able to photoactivate bacterial aggregation, which provides a second readout for Hg2+ detection. In return, the Hg2+-triggered bacterial aggregation leads to faster sedimentation and more efficient formation of biofilms. At low Hg2+ concentrations, the enrichment of the bacteria in biofilms leads to an up to 10-fold increase in the signal. The activation of photoswitchable proteins with biological light is a new concept in optogenetics, and the presented bacterial biosensor design is transferable to other bioluminescent reporters with particular interest for environmental monitoring.
Blue-Light-Switchable Bacterial Cell-Cell Adhesions Enable the Control of Multicellular Bacterial Communities.
Although the fundamental importance and biotechnological potential of multibacterial communities, also called biofilms, are well-known, our ability to control them is limited. We present a new way of dynamically controlling bacteria-bacteria adhesions by using blue light and how these photoswitchable adhesions can be used to regulate multicellularity and associated bacterial behavior. To achieve this, the photoswitchable proteins nMagHigh and pMagHigh were expressed on bacterial surfaces as adhesins to allow multicellular clusters to assemble under blue light and reversibly disassemble in the dark. Regulation of the bacterial cell-cell adhesions with visible light provides unique advantages including high spatiotemporal control, tunability, and noninvasive remote regulation. Moreover, these photoswitchable adhesions make it possible to regulate collective bacterial functions including aggregation, quorum sensing, biofilm formation, and metabolic cross-feeding between auxotrophic bacteria with light. Overall, the photoregulation of bacteria-bacteria adhesions provides a new way of studying bacterial cell biology and will enable the design of biofilms for biotechnological applications.
Turning Cell Adhesions ON or OFF with High Spatiotemporal Precision Using the Green Light Responsive Protein CarH.
Spatiotemporal control of integrin-mediated cell adhesions to extracellular matrix regulates cell behavior with has numerous implications for biotechnological applications. In this work, two approaches for regulating cell adhesions in space and time with high precision are reported, both of which utilize green light. In the first design, CarH, which is a tetramer in the dark, is used to mask cRGD adhesion-peptides on a surface. Upon green light illumination, the CarH tetramer dissociates into its monomers, revealing the adhesion peptide so that cells can adhere. In the second design, the RGD motif is incorporated into the CarH protein tetramer such that cells can adhere to surfaces functionalized with this protein. The cell adhesions can be disrupted with green light, due to the disassembly of the CarH-RGD protein. Both designs allow for photoregulation with noninvasive visible light and open new possibilities to investigate the dynamical regulation of cell adhesions in cell biology.
The importance of cell-cell interaction dynamics in bottom-up tissue engineering: Concepts of colloidal self-assembly in the fabrication of multicellular architectures.
Building tissue from cells as the basic building block based on principles of self-assembly is a challenging and promising approach. Understanding how far principles of self-assembly and self-sorting known for colloidal particles apply to cells remains unanswered. In this study, we demonstrate that not just controlling the cell-cell interactions but also their dynamics is a crucial factor that determines the formed multicellular structure, using photoswitchable interactions between cells that are activated with blue light and reverse in the dark. Tuning dynamics of the cell-cell interactions by pulsed light activation, results in multicellular architectures with different sizes and shapes. When the interactions between cells are dynamic compact and round multicellular clusters under thermodynamic control form, while otherwise branched and lose aggregates under kinetic control assemble. These structures parallel what is known for colloidal assemblies under reaction and diffusion limited cluster aggregation, respectively. Similarly, dynamic interactions between cells are essential for cells to self-sort into distinct groups. Using four different cell types, which expressed two orthogonal cell-cell interaction pairs, the cells sorted into two separate assemblies. Bringing concepts of colloidal self-assembly to bottom-up tissue engineering provides a new theoretical framework and will help in the design of more predictable tissue-like structures.
Red/Far-Red Light Switchable Cargo Attachment and Release in Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers.
In bacteria-driven microswimmers, i.e., bacteriabots, artificial cargos are attached to flagellated chemotactic bacteria for active delivery with potential applications in biomedical technology. Controlling when and where bacteria bind and release their cargo is a critical step for bacteriabot fabrication and efficient cargo delivery/deposition at the target site. Toward this goal, photoregulating the cargo integration and release in bacteriabots using red and far-red light, which are noninvasive stimuli with good tissue penetration and provide high spatiotemporal control, is proposed. In the bacteriabot design, the surfaces of E. coli and microsized model cargo particles with the proteins PhyB and PIF6, which bind to each other under red light and dissociate from each other under far-red light are functionalized. Consequently, the engineered bacteria adhere and transport the model cargo under red light and release it on-demand upon far-red light illumination due to the photoswitchable PhyB-PIF6 protein interaction. Overall, the proof-of-concept for red/far-red light switchable bacteriabots, which opens new possibilities in the photoregulation in biohybrid systems for bioengineering, targeted drug delivery, and lab-on-a-chip devices, is demonstrated.
Light controlled cell-to-cell adhesion and chemical communication in minimal synthetic cells.
Decorating GUVs, used as minimal synthetic cell models, with photoswitchable proteins allows controlling the adhesion between them and their assembly into multicellular structures with light. Thereby, the chemical communication between a sender and a receiver GUV, which strongly depends on their spatial proximity, can also be photoregulated.
Independent Blue and Red Light Triggered Narcissistic Self-Sorting Self-Assembly of Colloidal Particles.
The ability of living systems to self-sort different cells into separate assemblies and the ability to independently regulate different structures are one ingredient that gives rise to their spatiotemporal complexity. Here, this self-sorting behavior is replicated in a synthetic system with two types of colloidal particles; where each particle type independently self-assembles either under blue or red light into distinct clusters, known as narcissistic self-sorting. For this purpose, each particle type is functionalized either with the light-switchable protein VVDHigh or Cph1, which homodimerize under blue and red light, respectively. The response to different wavelengths of light and the high specificity of the protein interactions allows for the independent self-assembly of each particle type with blue or red light and narcissistic self-sorting. Moreover, as both of the photoswitchable protein interactions are reversible in the dark; also, the self-sorting is reversible and dynamic. Overall, the independent blue and red light controlled self-sorting in a synthetic system opens new possibilities to assemble adaptable, smart, and advanced materials similar to the complexity observed in tissues.
Mimicking Adhesion in Minimal Synthetic Cells.
Cell adhesions to the extracellular matrix and to neighboring cells are fundamental to cell behavior and have also been implemented into minimal synthetic cells, which are assembled from molecular building blocks from the bottom-up. Investigating adhesion in cell mimetic models with reduced complexity provides a better understanding of biochemical and biophysical concepts underlying the cell adhesion machinery. In return, implementing cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesions into minimal synthetic cells allows reconstructing cell functions associated with cell adhesions including cell motility, multicellular prototissues, fusion of vesicles, and the self-sorting of different cell types. Cell adhesions have been mimicked using both the native cell receptors and reductionist mimetics providing a variety of specific, reversible, dynamic, and spatiotemporally controlled interactions. This review gives an overview of different minimal adhesion modules integrated into different minimal synthetic cells drawing inspiration from cell and colloidal science.
Photo‐ECM: A Blue Light Photoswitchable Synthetic Extracellular Matrix Protein for Reversible Control over Cell–Matrix Adhesion.
The dynamic and spatiotemporal control of integrin‐mediated cell adhesion to RGD motifs in its extracellular matrix (ECM) is important for understating cell biology and biomedical applications because cell adhesion fundamentally regulates cellular behavior. Herein, the first photoswitchable synthetic ECM protein, Photo‐ECM, based on the blue light switchable protein LOV2 is engineered. The Photo‐ECM protein includes a RGD sequence, which is hidden in the folded LOV2 protein structure in the dark and is exposed under blue light so that integrins can bind and cells can adhere. The switchable presentation of the RGD motif allows to reversibly mediate and modulate integrin‐based cell adhesions using noninvasive blue light. With this protein cell adhesions in live cells could be reversed and the dynamics at the cellular level is observed. Hence, the Photo‐ECM opens a new possibility to investigate the spatiotemporal regulation of cell adhesions in cell biology and is the first step toward a genetically encoded and light‐responsive ECM.
Blue Light Switchable Cell–Cell Interactions Provide
Reversible and Spatiotemporal Control Towards
Bottom-Up Tissue Engineering.
Controlling cell–cell interactions is central for understanding key cellular
processes and bottom-up tissue assembly from single cells. The challenge is
to control cell–cell interactions dynamically and reversibly with high spati-
otemporal precision noninvasively and sustainably. In this study, cell–cell
interactions are controlled with visible light using an optogenetic approach by
expressing the blue light switchable proteins CRY2 or CIBN on the surfaces of
cells. CRY2 and CIBN expressing cells form specific heterophilic interactions
under blue light providing precise control in space and time. Further, these
interactions are reversible in the dark and can be repeatedly and dynamically
switched on and off. Unlike previous approaches, these genetically encoded
proteins allow for long-term expression of the interaction domains and
respond to nontoxic low intensity blue light. In addition, these interactions
are suitable to assemble cells into 3D multicellular architectures. Overall, this
approach captures the dynamic and reversible nature of cell–cell interactions
and controls them noninvasively and sustainably both in space and time. This
provides a new way of studying cell–cell interactions and assembling cellular
building blocks into tissues with unmatched flexibility.
Light-Guided Motility of a Minimal Synthetic Cell.
Cell motility is an important but complex process; as cells move, new adhesions form at the front and adhesions disassemble at the back. To replicate this dynamic and spatiotemporally controlled asymmetry of adhesions and achieve motility in a minimal synthetic cell, we controlled the adhesion of a model giant unilamellar vesicle (GUV) to the substrate with light. For this purpose, we immobilized the proteins iLID and Micro, which interact under blue light and dissociate from each other in the dark, on a substrate and a GUV, respectively. Under blue light, the protein interaction leads to adhesion of the vesicle to the substrate, which is reversible in the dark. The high spatiotemporal control provided by light, allowed partly illuminating the GUV and generating an asymmetry in adhesions. Consequently, the GUV moves into the illuminated area, a process that can be repeated over multiple cycles. Thus, our system reproduces the dynamic spatiotemporal distribution of adhesions and establishes mimetic motility of a synthetic cell.
Reversible Social Self-Sorting of Colloidal Cell-Mimics with Blue Light Switchable Proteins.
Towards the bottom-up assembly of synthetic cells from molecular building blocks it is an ongoing challenge to assemble micrometer sized compartments that host different processes into precise multicompartmental assemblies, also called prototissues. The difficulty lies in controlling interactions between different compartments dynamically both in space and time, as these interactions determine how they organize with respect to each other and how they work together. In this study, we have been able to control the self-assembly and social self-sorting of four different types of colloids, which we use as a model for synthetic cells, into two separate families with visible light. For this purpose we used two photoswitchable protein pairs (iLID/Nano and nHagHigh/pMagHigh) that both reversibly heterodimerize upon blue light exposure and dissociate from each other in the dark. These photoswitchable proteins provide non-invasive, dynamic and reversible remote control under biocompatible conditions over the self-assembly process with unprecedented spatial and temporal precision. In addition, each protein pair brings together specifically two different types of colloids. The orthogonality of the two protein pairs enables social self-sorting of a four component mixture into two distinct families of colloidal aggregates with controlled arrangements. These results will ultimately pave the way for the bottom-up assembly of multicompartment synthetic prototissues of a higher complexity, enabling us to control precisely and dynamically the organization of different compartments in space and time.
Independent Control over Multiple Cell Types in Space and Time Using Orthogonal Blue and Red Light Switchable Cell Interactions.
Independent control over multiple cell–material interactions with high spatiotemporal resolution is a key for many biomedical applications and understanding cell biology, as different cell types can perform different tasks in a multicellular context. In this study, the binding of two different cell types to materials is orthogonally controlled with blue and red light providing independent regulation in space and time. Cells expressing the photoswitchable protein cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) on cell surface bind to N‐truncated CRY‐interacting basic helix–loop–helix protein 1 (CIBN)‐immobilized substrates under blue light and cells expressing the photoswitchable protein phytochrome B (PhyB ) on cell surface bind to phytochrome interaction factor 6 (PIF6)‐immobilized substrates under red light, respectively. These light‐switchable cell interactions provide orthogonal and noninvasive control using two wavelengths of visible light. Moreover, both cell–material interactions are dynamically switched on under light and reversible in the dark. The specificity of the CRY2/CIBN and PhyB/PIF6 interactions and their response to different wavelengths of light allow selectively activating the binding of one cell type with blue and the other cell type with red light in the presence of the other cell type.
Engineering Proteins at Interfaces: From Complementary Characterization to Material Surfaces with Designed Functions.
Once materials come in contact with a biological fluid containing proteins, proteins are generally - so desired or not - attracted by a material's surface and adsorb onto it. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the most commonly used characterization methods employed to obtain a better understanding of the adsorption processes on either planar or curved surfaces. We continue to illustrate the benefit of combining different methods to different surface geometries of the material. The thus obtained insights ideally pave the way for engineering functional materials interacting in a predetermined manner with proteins.
Dynamic blue light-switchable protein patterns on giant unilamellar vesicles.
The blue light-dependent interaction between the proteins iLID and Nano allows recruiting and patterning proteins on GUV membranes, which thereby capture key features of patterns observed in nature. This photoswitchable protein interaction provides non-invasive, reversible and dynamic control over protein patterns of different sizes with high specificity and spatiotemporal resolution.
Blue Light Switchable Bacterial Adhesion as a Key Step toward the Design of Biofilms.
The control of where and when bacteria adhere to a substrate is a key step toward controlling the formation and organization in biofilms. This study shows how we engineer bacteria to adhere specifically to substrates with high spatial and temporal control under blue light, but not in the dark, by using photoswitchable interaction between nMag and pMag proteins. For this, we express pMag proteins on the surface of E. coli so that the bacteria can adhere to substrates with immobilized nMag protein under blue light. These adhesions are reversible in the dark and can be repeatedly turned on and off. Further, the number of bacteria that can adhere to the substrate as well as the attachment and detachment dynamics are adjustable by using different point mutants of pMag and altering light intensity. Overall, the blue light switchable bacteria adhesions offer reversible, tunable and bioorthogonal control with exceptional spatial and temporal resolution. This enables us to pattern bacteria on substrates with great flexibility.