Nongenetic engineering strategies for regulating receptor oligomerization in living cells
Cell surface receptors are important proteins that mediate communication between the cells and their outside environment, and also play essential roles in the control of a wide variety of biological processes, such as cell cycle, proliferation, communication, migration and apoptosis. Receptor oligomerization is an essential signal transduction mechanism that cell surface receptors use to transmit extracellular signals into the internal cytosol cellular machinery. Therefore, regulating receptor oligomerization provides an opportunity to customize cellular signaling and to direct cellular behavior in a user-defined manner. Some techniques have been developed for receptor oligomerization regulation, such as chemically induced dimerization (CID) and optogenetics, which involve traditional genetic engineering. However, the process of genetic manipulation is time-consuming, unpredictable and inefficient. Thus, development of nongenetic strategies for precisely regulating receptor oligomerization remains a desirable goal. Recently, along with the utilization of DNA, protein, small molecules and stimuli-responsive materials-based nongenetic engineering strategies, various receptor oligomerization and multiple cellular behaviors could be regulated, including migration, proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation and immune responses, etc. In this review, we aim to systematically introduce advances in the development of nongenetic engineering strategies for regulating receptor oligomerization, and provide insights into the existing challenges and future perspectives of this field.