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Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials
Foundry staff and users have engineered a set of bacteria that can irreversibly attach hard or soft materials to the cell surface with controllable density.
Significance and Impact
The researchers have created a living construction kit that can make hierarchically ordered materials with the highest surface density of any other engineered living material (ELM). The new platform opens the door to making self-assembling ELMs with specific properties like iridescence.
- The research team took advantage of the surface layer (S-layer) protein RsaA from the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus.
- Using a biological lock and key system called SpyTag/SpyCatcher, the researchers were able to dictate specifically where, as well as how densely packed, nanomaterials will bond to the cell surface.
- The engineered bacteria could attach proteins, biopolymers, and quantum dots to the engineered cell surface without affecting the cells' viability.
M. Charrier, D. Li, V.R. Mann, L. Yun, S. Jani, B. Rad, B.E. Cohen, P.D. Ashby, K.R. Ryan, C.M. Ajo-Franklin. ACS Syn. Bio. (2019). 8. 181-190. DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00448