Programmed assembly of bespoke prototissues on a microfluidic platform†
The precise assembly of protocell building blocks into prototissues that are stable in water, capable of sensing the external environment and which display collective behaviours remains a considerable challenge in prototissue engineering. We have designed a microfluidic platform that enables us to build bespoke prototissues from predetermined compositions of two types of protein–polymer protocells. We can accurately control their size, composition and create unique Janus configurations in a way that is not possible with traditional methods. Because we can control the number and type of the protocells that compose the prototissue, we can hence modulate the collective behaviours of this biomaterial. We show control over both the amplitude of thermally induced contractions in the biomaterial and its collective endogenous biochemical reactivity. Our results show that microfluidic technologies enable a new route to the precise and high-throughput fabrication of tissue-like materials with programmable collective properties that can be tuned through careful assembly of protocell building blocks of different types. We anticipate that our bespoke prototissues will be a starting point for the development of more sophisticated artificial tissues for use in medicine, soft robotics, and environmentally beneficial bioreactor technologies.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Lab on a Chip HOT Articles 2021