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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.

Key references:


  • Pierangelo Gobbo, Avinash J Patil, Mei Li, Stephen Mann, Nature Materials 2018, 17, 1145–1153.