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Engineering Intelligent Materials for the Interrogation of Bio-robotic Architectures and Regulatory Networks

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1 Author(s)
Dean Ho ; Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Cells serve as culminating examples of integrated sensors and actuators, or biological robots, inspired by nature. Their membranes and internal regulatory networks are composed of a plethora of molecular machines, such as membrane and signalling proteins that drive a highly intelligent series of coordinated events, from metabolism to motility. Biostructures such as cells and membrane proteins serve as compelling fabrication materials for next-generation applications in medicine, energy, as well as micro/nanorobotics that can harness the intrinsic mechanisms of biology for practical applications. The interfacing of biotic with abiotic systems is expected to take advantage of the inherent evolution-perfected architectures of biology by using them to functionalize nonliving elements towards the fabrication of intelligent materials. Our work offers a strategic approach of intelligent material fabrication by interfacing the collagen Type I cellular adhesion factor with robust biomimetic copolymer membrane films that can be UV-crosslinked for enhanced durability and possess abilities to achieve high Langmuir-Blodgett deposition surface pressures for increased surface area coverage of the composite films. These films in turn serve as candidate modalities to interact directly with cell membrane-bound mechano-sensors that can use topographical or chemical cues to induce higher-order behavior within the cell such as architectural rearrangement, etc. Here, we report the use of a biocompatible ABA triblock copolymer to serve as a molecular buoy on a Langmuir film air/water interface for thin film depositions of collagen, a large structural protein amongst its many other biological functions. Immunofluorescence studies have been used to confirm collagen transfer onto solid substrates while surface pressure analysis was used to assess the dynamic nature of collagen interaction with the ABA triblock copolymer. In addition, in vitro C2C12 mouse myoblast culture atop these composite- - materials has revealed substrate-mediated influences on cellular morphology and architecture. Using these hybrid collagen-copolymer films to functionalize a wide array of surfaces may offer useful strategies for engineering bio-inspired integrated devices based on inherent cellular/molecular function, as well as the interrogation of biorobotic/cellular behavior and regulatory networks governing their architectural patterning based upon cell-matrix interactions

Published in:

2006 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems

Date of Conference:

9-15 Oct. 2006