Commanding Cells Where to Go: Biomolecular Actuators for Acoustic Manipulation of Engineered Cells

Di Wu
Date: September 18, 2020, 1:00pm
Location: Online

Di Wu The ability to selectively manipulate and control the spatial arrangement of genetically defined cells is critical for the fields of living materials, biomedicine and synthetic biology. Ultrasound has the ability to manipulate a variety of objects remotely and en masse with high spatial and temporal precision via acoustic radiation force (ARF). However, this capability is currently disconnected from intracellular genetic programs.

In this talk, I will describe our recent progress in the development of genetically encoded actuators for ARF. These actuators are based on a unique class of gas-filled protein nanostructures from buoyant photosynthetic microbes. We show that these nanostructures can be manipulated by ultrasound despite their nanometric dimensions. When expressed inside genetically engineered cells, these actuators amplify the ARF experienced by the cells, allowing the cells to be selectively manipulated with sound waves based on their genotype. This enables dynamic patterning, focal trapping, translation, and bioprinting of specific cells with acoustic fields. These biomolecular actuators provide a direct link between gene expression and mechanical actuation, creating a new paradigm for molecular and cellular control in a broad range of contexts.