Living tissues and organs comprise spatially interlinked consortia of specialized cells that communicate and display collective behaviours within an integrated three-dimensional environment. Mimicking these complex living ensembles through the design and construction of artificial tissue-like systems (prototissues) based on the controlled assembly and functional integration of synthetic cell-like entities (protocells) is a major challenge that has important technological implications in bottom-up synthetic biology, bioinspired tissue engineering and microscale engineering of soft machines and devices.
Programmed assembly of synthetic protocells into thermoresponsive prototissues:
The prototissues comprise a binary community of bio-orthogonally linked proteinosome-based protocells capable of thermoresponsive collective behaviours such as enzymatically modulated reversible contraction, and mechanochemical transduction. These behaviours are based on coordinated interactions between multiple chemically coupled proteinosomes assembled at equilibrium and are therefore considered to be collective in the general sense rather than as a consequence of non-equilibrium (active) behaviour.
- Pierangelo Gobbo, Avinash J Patil, Mei Li, Stephen Mann, Nature Materials 2018, 17, 1145–1153.
Immobilization of compartmentalized microscale objects in 3D hydrogels provides a step towards the modular assembly of soft functional materials with tunable architectures and distributed functionalities. Herein, we report the use of a combination of micro‐compartmentalization, immobilization, and modularization to fabricate and assemble hydrogel‐based microreactor assemblies comprising millions of functionalized polysaccharide–polynucleotide coacervate droplets. The heterogeneous hydrogels can be structurally fused by interfacial crosslinking and coupled as input and output modules to implement a UV‐induced photocatalytic/peroxidation nanoparticle/DNAzyme reaction cascade that generates a spatiotemporal fluorescence read‐out depending on the droplet number density, intensity of photoenergization, and chemical flux. Our approach offers a route to heterogeneous hydrogels with endogenous reactivity and reconfigurable architecture, and provides a step towards the development of soft modular materials with programmable functionality.
- Liu J, Tian L, Qiao Y, Zhou S, Patil A J, Wang K, Li M and Mann S, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2020, 59, 6853-6859