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Issue 8, 2013
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Physiological formation of fluorescent and conductive protein microfibers in live fibroblasts upon spontaneous uptake of biocompatible fluorophores

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Abstract

We have recently reported initial results concerning an original approach to introduce additional properties into fibrillar proteins produced by live fibroblasts and extruded into the ECM. The key to such an approach was biocompatible, fluorescent and semiconducting synthetic molecules which penetrated spontaneously the cells and were progressively encompassed via non-bonding interactions during the self-assembly process of the proteins, without altering cell viability and reproducibility. In this paper we demonstrate that the intracellular secretion of fluorescent microfibers can be generalized to living primary and immortalized human/mouse fibroblasts. By means of real-time single-cell confocal microscopy we show that the fluorescent microfibers, most of which display helical morphology, are generated by intracellular coding of the synthetic molecules. We also describe co-localization experiments on the fluorescent microfibers isolated from the cell milieu demonstrating that they are mainly made of type-I collagen. Finally, we report experimental data indicating that the embedded synthetic molecules cause the proteins not only to be fluorescent but also capable of electrical conductivity.

Graphical abstract: Physiological formation of fluorescent and conductive protein microfibers in live fibroblasts upon spontaneous uptake of biocompatible fluorophores

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
29 Mar 2013
Accepted
02 Jun 2013
First published
03 Jun 2013

Integr. Biol., 2013,5, 1057-1066
Article type
Paper

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