Visible-light-assisted donor-acceptor-Stenhouse-adduct-based reversible photoswitching on a laser-structurable OrmoComp substrate. - In: ACS applied polymer materials, ISSN 2637-6105, Bd. 5 (2023), 10, S. 8631-8640
Laser-assisted nanolithography of commercially available photoresists is offering a limitless designing opportunity in the micro- and nanostructuring of 3D organotypic cell culture scaffolds. Among them, chemically functionalized OrmoComp has shown promising improvement in cell adhesion that paves the way to assemble cellular entities on a desirable geometry. Establishing a photoswitchable chemistry on the OrmoComp surface may offer an additional degree of freedom to manipulate the surface chemistry locally and selectively. We have established the methods for functionalization of the photopolymerized OrmoComp surface with visible-light-switchable donor-acceptor Stenhouse adducts. Unlike other polymers, a photopolymerized OrmoComp surface appears to be optimal for reversible photothermal switching, offering the possibility to influence surface properties like absorption and hydrophilicity tremendously. Light-assisted chemical modulation between colored triene-2-ol and colorless cyclopentenone can be achieved to a size region as narrow as 20 μm. Thermal reversion to the original triene-2-ol state can be analyzed spectroscopically and observed with the naked eye.
Deformability and collision-induced reorientation enhance cell topotaxis in dense microenvironments. - In: Biophysical journal, ISSN 1542-0086, Bd. 122 (2023), 13, S. 2791-2807
In vivo, cells navigate through complex environments filled with obstacles such as other cells and the extracellular matrix. Recently, the term “topotaxis” has been introduced for navigation along topographic cues such as obstacle density gradients. Experimental and mathematical efforts have analyzed topotaxis of single cells in pillared grids with pillar density gradients. A previous model based on active Brownian particles (ABPs) has shown that ABPs perform topotaxis, i.e., drift toward lower pillar densities, due to decreased effective persistence lengths at high pillar densities. The ABP model predicted topotactic drifts of up to 1% of the instantaneous speed, whereas drifts of up to 5% have been observed experimentally. We hypothesized that the discrepancy between the ABP and the experimental observations could be in 1) cell deformability and 2) more complex cell-pillar interactions. Here, we introduce a more detailed model of topotaxis based on the cellular Potts model (CPM). To model persistent cells we use the Act model, which mimics actin-polymerization-driven motility, and a hybrid CPM-ABP model. Model parameters were fitted to simulate the experimentally found motion of Dictyostelium discoideum on a flat surface. For starved D. discoideum, the topotactic drifts predicted by both CPM variants are closer to the experimental results than the previous ABP model due to a larger decrease in persistence length. Furthermore, the Act model outperformed the hybrid model in terms of topotactic efficiency, as it shows a larger reduction in effective persistence time in dense pillar grids. Also pillar adhesion can slow down cells and decrease topotaxis. For slow and less-persistent vegetative D. discoideum cells, both CPMs predicted a similar small topotactic drift. We conclude that deformable cell volume results in higher topotactic drift compared with ABPs, and that feedback of cell-pillar collisions on cell persistence increases drift only in highly persistent cells.
High-frequency contactless sensor for the detection of Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia antibodies via platelet aggregation. - In: International journal of molecular sciences, ISSN 1422-0067, Bd. 23 (2022), 22, 14395, insges. 13 S.
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), a severe autoimmune disorder, occurs in patients undergoing heparin therapy. The presence of platelet-activating antibodies against platelet factor 4/Heparin in the blood confirms patients suffering from HIT. The most widely used methods for HIT diagnosis are immunoassays but the results only suit to rule out HIT as the assays provide only around 50% specificity. To confirm HIT, samples with positive results in immunoassays are retested in functional assays (>98% specificity) that track platelet-activating antibodies via platelet aggregation. However, the protocols in functional assays are either time-consuming (due to the requirement of the detection of serotonin release) or require highly trained staff for the visualization of platelets. Here, we applied a cheap and easy-to-use contactless sensor, which employs high-frequency microwaves to detect the changes in the resonant frequency caused by platelet aggregation/activation. Analysis of change in conductivity and permittivity allowed us to distinguish between HIT-like (KKO) and non-HIT-like (RTO) antibodies. KKO caused a stronger reduction of conductivity of platelet samples than RTO. Our results imply that the high-frequency contactless sensor can be a promising approach for the development of a better and easier method for the detection of HIT.
Spatial and temporal modulation of cell instructive cues in a filamentous supramolecular biomaterial. - In: ACS applied materials & interfaces, ISSN 1944-8252, Bd. 14 (2022), 15, S. 17042-17054
Supramolecular materials provide unique opportunities to mimic both the structure and mechanics of the biopolymer networks that compose the extracellular matrix. However, strategies to modify their filamentous structures in space and time in 3D cell culture to study cell behavior as encountered in development and disease are lacking. We herein disclose a multicomponent squaramide-based supramolecular material whose mechanics and bioactivity can be controlled by light through co-assembly of a 1,2-dithiolane (DT) monomer that forms disulfide cross-links. Remarkably, increases in storage modulus from ∼200 Pa to >10 kPa after stepwise photo-cross-linking can be realized without an initiator while retaining colorlessness and clarity. Moreover, viscoelasticity and plasticity of the supramolecular networks decrease upon photo-irradiation, reducing cellular protrusion formation and motility when performed at the onset of cell culture. When applied during 3D cell culture, force-mediated manipulation is impeded and cells move primarily along earlier formed channels in the materials. Additionally, we show photopatterning of peptide cues in 3D using either a photomask or direct laser writing. We demonstrate that these squaramide-based filamentous materials can be applied to the development of synthetic and biomimetic 3D in vitro cell and disease models, where their secondary cross-linking enables mechanical heterogeneity and shaping at multiple length scales.
Impact of neurite alignment on organelle motion. - In: Interface, ISSN 1742-5662, Bd. 19 (2022), 187, 20210617, S. 1-13
Intracellular transport is pivotal for cell growth and survival. Malfunctions in this process have been associated with devastating neurodegenerative diseases, highlighting the need for a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved. Here, we use an experimental methodology that leads neurites of differentiated PC12 cells into either one of two configurations: a one-dimensional configuration, where the neurites align along lines, or a two-dimensional configuration, where the neurites adopt a random orientation and shape on a flat substrate. We subsequently monitored the motion of functional organelles, the lysosomes, inside the neurites. Implementing a time-resolved analysis of the mean-squared displacement, we quantitatively characterized distinct motion modes of the lysosomes. Our results indicate that neurite alignment gives rise to faster diffusive and super-diffusive lysosomal motion than the situation in which the neurites are randomly oriented. After inducing lysosome swelling through an osmotic challenge by sucrose, we confirmed the predicted slowdown in diffusive mobility. Surprisingly, we found that the swelling-induced mobility change affected each of the (sub-/super-)diffusive motion modes differently and depended on the alignment configuration of the neurites. Our findings imply that intracellular transport is significantly and robustly dependent on cell morphology, which might in part be controlled by the extracellular matrix.
Freeform direct laser writing of versatile topological 3D scaffolds enabled by intrinsic support hydrogel. - In: Materials Horizons, ISSN 2051-6355, Bd. 8 (2021), 12, S. 3334-3344
In this study, a novel approach to create arbitrarily shaped 3D hydrogel objects is presented, wherein freeform two-photon polymerization (2PP) is enabled by the combination of a photosensitive hydrogel and an intrinsic support matrix. This way, topologies without physical contact such as a highly porous 3D network of concatenated rings were realized, which are impossible to manufacture with most current 3D printing technologies. Micro-Raman and nanoindentation measurements show the possibility to control water uptake and hence tailor the Young's modulus of the structures via the light dosage, proving the versatility of the concept regarding many scaffold characteristics that makes it well suited for cell specific cell culture as demonstrated by cultivation of human induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes.
Label-free detection and characterization of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT)-like antibodies. - In: ACS omega, ISSN 2470-1343, Bd. 6 (2021), 40, S. 25926-25939
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) antibodies (Abs) can mediate and activate blood cells, forming blood clots. To detect HIT Abs, immunological assays with high sensitivity (≥95%) and fast response are widely used, but only about 50% of these tests are accurate as non-HIT Abs also bind to the same antigens. We aim to develop biosensor-based electrical detection to better differentiate HIT-like from non-HIT-like Abs. As a proof of principle, we tested with two types of commercially available monoclonal Abs including KKO (inducing HIT) and RTO (noninducing HIT). Platelet factor 4/Heparin antigens were immobilized on gold electrodes, and binding of antibodies on the chips was detected based on the change in the charge transfer resistance (Rct). Binding of KKO on sensors yielded a significantly lower charge transfer resistance than that of RTO. Bound antibodies and their binding characteristics on the sensors were confirmed and characterized by complementary techniques. Analysis of thermal kinetics showed that RTO bonds are more stable than those of KKO, whereas KKO exhibited a higher negative ζ potential than RTO. These different characteristics made it possible to electrically differentiate these two types of antibodies. Our study opens a new avenue for the development of sensors for better detection of pathogenic Abs in HIT patients.
Intracellular dynamic assembly of deep-red emitting supramolecular nanostructures based on the Pt…Pt metallophilic interaction. - In: Advanced materials, ISSN 1521-4095, Bd. 33 (2021), 37, 2008613, insges. 13 S.
Squaramide-based supramolecular materials drive HepG2 spheroid differentiation. - In: Advanced healthcare materials, ISSN 2192-2659, Bd. 10 (2021), 11, 2001903, insges. 10 S.
A major challenge in the use of HepG2 cell culture models for drug toxicity screening is their lack of maturity in 2D culture. 3D culture in Matrigel promotes the formation of spheroids that express liver-relevant markers, yet they still lack various primary hepatocyte functions. Therefore, alternative matrices where chemical composition and materials properties are controlled to steer maturation of HepG2 spheroids remain desired. Herein, a modular approach is taken based on a fully synthetic and minimalistic supramolecular matrix based on squaramide synthons outfitted with a cell-adhesive peptide, RGD for 3D HepG2 spheroid culture. Co-assemblies of RGD-functionalized squaramide-based and native monomers resulted in soft and self-recovering supramolecular hydrogels with a tunable RGD concentration. HepG2 spheroids are self-assembled and grown ( 150 m) within the supramolecular hydrogels with high cell viability and differentiation over 21 days of culture. Importantly, significantly higher mRNA and protein expression levels of phase I and II metabolic enzymes, drug transporters, and liver markers are found for the squaramide hydrogels in comparison to Matrigel. Overall, the fully synthetic squaramide hydrogels are proven to be synthetically accessible and effective for HepG2 differentiation showcasing the potential of this supramolecular matrix to rival and replace naturally-derived materials classically used in high-throughput toxicity screening.
Modulation of mammalian cell behavior by nanoporous gass. - In: Advanced biology, ISSN 2701-0198, Bd. 5 (2021), 7, 2000570, insges. 13 S.
The introduction of novel bioactive materials to manipulate living cell behavior is a crucial topic for biomedical research and tissue engineering. Biomaterials or surface patterns that boost specific cell functions can enable innovative new products in cell culture and diagnostics. This study investigates the influence of the intrinsically nano-patterned surface of nanoporous glass membranes on the behavior of mammalian cells. Three different cell lines and primary human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) proliferate readily on nanoporous glass membranes with mean pore sizes between 10 and 124 nm. In both proliferation and mRNA expression experiments, L929 fibroblasts show a distinct trend toward mean pore sizes >80 nm. For primary hMSCs, excellent proliferation is observed on all nanoporous surfaces. hMSCs on samples with 17 nm pore size display increased expression of COL10, COL2A1, and SOX9, especially during the first two weeks of culture. In the upside down culture, SK-MEL-28 cells on nanoporous glass resist the gravitational force and proliferate well in contrast to cells on flat references. The effect of paclitaxel treatment of MDA-MB-321 breast cancer cells is already visible after 48 h on nanoporous membranes and strongly pronounced in comparison to reference samples, underlining the material's potential for functional drug screening.