38 results found
Hindley JW, Zheleva DG, Elani Y, et al., Building a synthetic mechanosensitive signaling pathway in compartmentalized artificial cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ISSN: 0027-8424
To date reconstitution of one of the fundamental methods of cell communication, the signaling pathway, has been unaddressed in the bottom-up construction of artificial cells (ACs). Such developments are needed to increase the functionality and biomimicry of ACs, accelerating their translation and application in biotechnology. Here we report the construction of a de novo synthetic signaling pathway in microscale nested vesicles. Vesicle cell models respond to external calcium signals through activation of an intracellular interaction between phospholipase A2 and a mechanosensitive channel present in the internal membranes, triggering content mixing between compartments and controlling cell fluorescence. Emulsion-based approaches to AC construction are therefore shown to be ideal for the quick design and testing of new signaling networks and can readily include synthetic molecules difficult to introduce to biological cells. This work represents a foundation for the engineering of multi-compartment-spanning designer pathways that can be utilised to control downstream events inside an artificial cell, leading to the assembly of micromachines capable of sensing and responding to changes in their local environment.
Friddin MS, Elani Y, Trantidou T, et al., 2019, New directions for artificial cells using rapid prototyped biosystems, Analytical Chemistry, Vol: 91, Pages: 4921-4928, ISSN: 0003-2700
Microfluidics has been shown to be capable of generating a range of single- and multi- compartment vesicles and bilayer delineated droplets that can be assembled in 2D and 3D. These model systems are becoming increasingly recognized as powerful biomimetic constructs for assembling tissue models, engineering therapeutic delivery systems and for screening drugs. One bottleneck in developing this technology is the time, expertise and equipment required for device fabrication. This has led to interest across the microfluidics community in using rapid prototyping to engineer microfluidic devices from Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings. We highlight how this rapid prototyping revolution is transforming the fabrication of microfluidic devices for bottom-up synthetic biology. We provide an outline of the current landscape and present how advances in the field may give rise to the next generation of multifunctional biodevices, particularly with Industry 4.0 on the horizon. Successfully developing this technology and making it open-source could pave the way for a new generation of citizen-led science, fueling the possibility that the next multi-billion dollar start-up could emerge from an attic or a basement.
Ces O, Elani Y, 2019, Community building in synthetic biology., Exp Biol Med (Maywood), Vol: 244, Pages: 281-282
Friddin M, Bolognesi G, Salehi-Reyhani A, et al., Direct manipulation of liquid ordered lipid membrane domains using optical traps, Nature Communications Chemistry
Trantidou T, Dekker L, Polizzi K, et al., 2018, Functionalizing cell-mimetic giant vesicles with encapsulated bacterial biosensors, Interface Focus, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2042-8901
The design of vesicle microsystems as artificial cells (bottom-up synthetic biology) has traditionally relied on the incorporation of molecular components to impart functionality. These cell mimics have reduced capabilities compared with their engineered biological counterparts (top-down synthetic biology), as they lack the powerful metabolic and regulatory pathways associated with living systems. There is increasing scope for using whole intact cellular components as functional modules within artificial cells, as a route to increase the capabilities of artificial cells. In this feasibility study, we design and embed genetically engineered microbes (Escherichia coli) in a vesicle-based cell mimic and use them as biosensing modules for real-time monitoring of lactate in the external environment. Using this conceptual framework, the functionality of other microbial devices can be conferred into vesicle microsystems in the future, bridging the gap between bottom-up and top-down synthetic biology.
Trantidou T, Friddin M, Salehi-Reyhani S, et al., 2018, Droplet microfluidics for the construction of compartmentalised model membranes, Lab on a Chip, Vol: 18, Pages: 2488-2509, ISSN: 1473-0189
The design of membrane-based constructs with multiple compartments is of increasing importance given their potential applications as microreactors, as artificial cells in synthetic-biology, as simplified cell models, and as drug delivery vehicles. The emergence of droplet microfluidics as a tool for their construction has allowed rapid scale-up in generation throughput, scale-down of size, and control over gross membrane architecture. This is true on several levels: size, level of compartmentalisation and connectivity of compartments can all be programmed to various degrees. This tutorial review explains and explores the reasons behind this. We discuss microfluidic strategies for the generation of a family of compartmentalised systems that have lipid membranes as the basic structural motifs, where droplets are either the fundamental building blocks, or are precursors to the membrane-bound compartments. We examine the key properties associated with these systems (including stability, yield, encapsulation efficiency), discuss relevant device fabrication technologies, and outline the technical challenges. In doing so, we critically review the state-of-play in this rapidly advancing field.
Bolognesi G, Friddin MS, Salehi-Reyhani S, et al., 2018, Sculpting and fusing biomimetic vesicle networks using optical tweezers, Nature Communications, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2041-1723
Constructing higher-order vesicle assemblies has discipline-spanning potential from responsive soft-matter materials to artificial cell networks in synthetic biology. This potential is ultimately derived from the ability to compartmentalise and order chemical species in space. To unlock such applications, spatial organisation of vesicles in relation to one another must be controlled, and techniques to deliver cargo to compartments developed. Herein, we use optical tweezers to assemble, reconfigure and dismantle networks of cell-sized vesicles that, in different experimental scenarios, we engineer to exhibit several interesting properties. Vesicles are connected through double-bilayer junctions formed via electrostatically controlled adhesion. Chemically distinct vesicles are linked across length scales, from several nanometres to hundreds of micrometres, by axon-like tethers. In the former regime, patterning membranes with proteins and nanoparticles facilitates material exchange between compartments and enables laser-triggered vesicle merging. This allows us to mix and dilute content, and to initiate protein expression by delivering biomolecular reaction components.
Karamdad K, Hindley J, Friddin MS, et al., 2018, Engineering thermoresponsive phase separated vesicles formed via emulsion phase transfer as a content-release platform, Chemical Science, Vol: 9, Pages: 4851-4858, ISSN: 2041-6520
Giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) are a well-established tool for the study of membrane biophysics and are increasingly used as artificial cell models and functional units in biotechnology. This trend is driven by the development of emulsion-based generation methods such as Emulsion Phase Transfer (EPT), which facilitates the encapsulation of almost any water-soluble compounds (including biomolecules) regardless of size or charge, is compatible with droplet microfluidics, and allows GUVs with asymmetric bilayers to be assembled. However, the ability to control the composition of membranes formed via EPT remains an open question; this is key as composition gives rise to an array of biophysical phenomena which can be used to add functionality to membranes. Here, we evaluate the use of GUVs constructed via this method as a platform for phase behaviour studies and take advantage of composition-dependent features to engineer thermally-responsive GUVs. For the first time, we generate ternary GUVs (DOPC/DPPC/cholesterol) using EPT, and by compensating for the lower cholesterol incorporation efficiencies, show that these possess the full range of phase behaviour displayed by electroformed GUVs. As a demonstration of the fine control afforded by this approach, we demonstrate release of dye and peptide cargo when ternary GUVs are heated through the immiscibility transition temperature, and show that release temperature can be tuned by changing vesicle composition. We show that GUVs can be individually addressed and release triggered using a laser beam. Our findings validate EPT as a suitable method for generating phase separated vesicles and provide a valuable proof-of-concept for engineering content release functionality into individually addressable vesicles, which could have a host of applications in the development of smart synthetic biosystems.
Hindley JW, Elani Y, McGilvery CM, et al., 2018, Light-triggered enzymatic reactions in nested vesicle reactors, Nature Communications, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2041-1723
Cell-sized vesicles have tremendous potential both as miniaturised pL reaction vessels and in bottom-up synthetic biology as chassis for artificial cells. In both these areas the introduction of light-responsive modules affords increased functionality, for example, to initiate enzymatic reactions in the vesicle interior with spatiotemporal control. Here we report a system composed of nested vesicles where the inner compartments act as phototransducers, responding to ultraviolet irradiation through diacetylene polymerisation-induced pore formation to initiate enzymatic reactions. The controlled release and hydrolysis of a fluorogenic β-galactosidase substrate in the external compartment is demonstrated, where the rate of reaction can be modulated by varying ultraviolet exposure time. Such cell-like nested microreactor structures could be utilised in fields from biocatalysis through to drug delivery.
Elani Y, Trantidou T, Wylie D, et al., 2018, Constructing vesicle-based artificial cells with embedded living cells as organelle-like modules, Scientific Reports, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2045-2322
There is increasing interest in constructing artificial cells by functionalisinglipid vesicles with biological and synthetic machinery. Due to their reduced complexity and lack of evolved biochemical pathways, the capabilities of artificial cells are limitedin comparison to their biologicalcounterparts. We show that encapsulating living cells in vesicles provides a means for artificial cells to leverage cellular biochemistry, with the encapsulated cells serving organelle-like functions as living modules inside a larger syntheticcell assembly. Using microfluidic technologies to construct such hybrid systems, we demonstrate that the vesicle host and the encapsulated cell operate in concert. The external architecture of the vesicle shields the cell from toxic surroundings, whilethe cellacts as a bioreactor module that processes encapsulated feedstock which is further processedby a synthetic enzymatic cascadeco-encapsulated in the vesicle.
Thomas JM, Friddin MS, Ces O, et al., 2017, Programming membrane permeability using integrated membrane pores and blockers as molecular regulators, Chemical Communications, Vol: 53, Pages: 12282-12285, ISSN: 1359-7345
We report a bottom-up synthetic biology approach to engineering vesicles with programmable permeabilities. Exploiting the concentration-dependent relationship between constitutively active pores (alpha-hemolysin) and blockers allows blockers to behave as molecular regulators for tuning permeability, enabling us to systematically modulate cargo release kinetics without changing the lipid fabric of the system.
de Bruin A, Friddin MS, Elani Y, et al., 2017, A transparent 3D printed device for assembling droplet hydrogel bilayers (DHBs), RSC Advances, Vol: 7, Pages: 47796-47800, ISSN: 2046-2069
We report a new approach for assembling droplet hydrogel bilayers (DHBs) using a transparent 3D printed device. We characterise the transparency of our platform, confirm bilayer formation using electrical measurements and show that single-channel recordings can be obtained using our reusable rapid prototyped device. This method significantly reduces the cost and infrastructure required to develop devices for DHB assembly and downstream study.
Trantidou T, Friddin M, Elani Y, et al., 2017, Engineering compartmentalized biomimetic micro- and nanocontainers, ACS Nano, Vol: 11, Pages: 6549-6565, ISSN: 1936-086X
Compartmentalization of biological content and function is a key architectural feature in biology, where membrane bound micro- and nanocompartments are used for performing a host of highly specialized and tightly regulated biological functions. The benefit of compartmentalization as a design principle is behind its ubiquity in cells and has led to it being a central engineering theme in construction of artificial cell-like systems. In this review, we discuss the attractions of designing compartmentalized membrane-bound constructs and review a range of biomimetic membrane architectures that span length scales, focusing on lipid-based structures but also addressing polymer-based and hybrid approaches. These include nested vesicles, multicompartment vesicles, large-scale vesicle networks, as well as droplet interface bilayers, and double-emulsion multiphase systems (multisomes). We outline key examples of how such structures have been functionalized with biological and synthetic machinery, for example, to manufacture and deliver drugs and metabolic compounds, to replicate intracellular signaling cascades, and to demonstrate collective behaviors as minimal tissue constructs. Particular emphasis is placed on the applications of these architectures and the state-of-the-art microfluidic engineering required to fabricate, functionalize, and precisely assemble them. Finally, we outline the future directions of these technologies and highlight how they could be applied to engineer the next generation of cell models, therapeutic agents, and microreactors, together with the diverse applications in the emerging field of bottom-up synthetic biology.
Salehi-Reyhani A, Ces O, Elani Y, 2017, Artificial cell mimics as simplified models for the study of cell biology, Experimental Biology and Medicine, Vol: 242, Pages: 1309-1317, ISSN: 1535-3702
Living cells are hugely complex chemical systems composed of a milieu of distinct chemical species (including DNA, proteins, lipids, and metabolites) interconnected with one another through a vast web of interactions: this complexity renders the study of cell biology in a quantitative and systematic manner a difficult task. There has been an increasing drive towards the utilization of artificial cells as cell mimics to alleviate this, a development that has been aided by recent advances in artificial cell construction. Cell mimics are simplified cell-like structures, composed from the bottom-up with precisely defined and tunable compositions. They allow specific facets of cell biology to be studied in isolation, in a simplified environment where control of variables can be achieved without interference from a living and responsive cell. This mini-review outlines the core principles of this approach and surveys recent key investigations that use cell mimics to address a wide range of biological questions. It will also place the field in the context of emerging trends, discuss the associated limitations, and outline future directions of the field.
Trantidou T, Elani Y, Parsons E, et al., 2017, Hydrophilic surface modification of PDMS for droplet microfluidics using a simple, quick, and robust method via PVA deposition, Microsystems and Nanoengineering, Vol: 3, ISSN: 2055-7434
Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is a dominant material in the fabrication of microfluidic devices to generate water-in-oil droplets, particularly lipid-stabilized droplets, because of its highly hydrophobic nature. However, its key property of hydrophobicity has hindered its use in the microfluidic generation of oil-in-water droplets, which requires channels to have hydrophilic surface properties. In this article, we developed, optimized, and characterized a method to produce PDMS with a hydrophilic surface via the deposition of polyvinyl alcohol following plasma treatment and demonstrated its suitability for droplet generation. The proposed method is simple, quick, effective, and low cost and is versatile with respect to surfactants, with droplets being successfully generated using both anionic surfactants and more biologically relevant phospholipids. This method also allows the device to be selectively patterned with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic regions, leading to the generation of double emulsions and inverted double emulsions.
Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, et al., 2016, Optically assembled droplet interface bilayer (OptiDIB) networks from cell-sized microdroplets, Soft Matter, Vol: 12, Pages: 7731-7734, ISSN: 1744-6848
We report a new platform technology to systematically assemble droplet interface bilayer (DIB) networks in user-defined 3D architectures from cell-sized droplets using optical tweezers. Our OptiDIB platform is the first demonstration of optical trapping to precisely construct 3D DIB networks, paving the way for the development of a new generation of modular bio-systems.
Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, et al., The optical assembly of bilayer networks from cell-sized droplets for synthetic biology, Systems and Synthetic Biology
Elani Y, 2016, Construction of membrane-bound artificial cells using microfluidics: a new frontier in bottom-up synthetic biology, Biochemical Society Transactions, Vol: 44, Pages: 723-730, ISSN: 1470-8752
The quest to construct artificial cells from the bottom-up using simple building blocks has received much attention over recent decades and is one of the grand challenges in synthetic biology. Cell mimics that are encapsulated by lipid membranes are a particularly powerful class of artificial cells due to their biocompatibility and the ability to reconstitute biological machinery within them. One of the key obstacles in the field centres on the following: how can membrane-based artificial cells be generated in a controlled way and in high-throughput? In particular, how can they be constructed to have precisely defined parameters including size, biomolecular composition and spatial organization? Microfluidic generation strategies have proved instrumental in addressing these questions. This article will outline some of the major principles underpinning membrane-based artificial cells and their construction using microfluidics, and will detail some recent landmarks that have been achieved.
Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, et al., Optical tweezers to assemble 2D and 3D droplet interface bilayer networks from cell-sized droplets, EMBL Microfluidics
Elani Y, Solvas XC, Edel JB, et al., 2016, Microfluidic generation of encapsulated droplet interface bilayer networks (multisomes) and their use as cell-like reactors., Chemical Communications, Vol: 52, Pages: 5961-5964, ISSN: 1364-548X
Compartmentalised structures based on droplet interface bilayers (DIBs), including multisomes and compartmentalised vesicles, are seen by many as the next generation of biomimetic soft matter devices. Herein, we outline a microfluidic approach for the construction of miniaturised multisomes of pL volumes in high-throughput and demonstrate their potential as vehicles for in situ chemical synthesis.
Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, et al., 2016, Light-driven drag and drop assembly of micron-scale bilayer networks for synthetic biology, Pages: 545-546
We have developed a new method to assemble single- or multi-layered networks of droplet interface bilayers (DIBs) from cell-sized droplets using a single beam optical trap (optical tweezers). The novelty of our approach is the ability to directly trap the microdroplets with the laser and manipulate them in 3D to construct DIB networks of user-defined architectures. Our method does not require a complex optical setup, is versatile, contactless, benefits from both high spatial and temporal resolution, and could set a new paradigm for the assembly of smart, synthetic biosystems.
Trantidou T, Elani Y, Ces O, 2016, Versatile strategies for the microfluidic generation of lipid-stabilised double emulsions, Pages: 1595-1596
Lipid-stabilised double emulsions have recently gained much importance in translational healthcare as potential micro-bioreactors for the synthesis of high-end materials, in situ drug delivery, and as templates for artificial cells in synthetic biology. Whilst microfluidic generation of surfactantstabilised systems is well established, lipid-stabilised systems are notoriously more cumbersome to produce, since they require specific surface chemistries and many surface modification techniques are incompatible with lipids. This paper reports a simple, robust and versatile method for the microfluidic generation of stable and monodisperse double emulsions using biologically relevant phospholipids.
Trantidou T, Elani Y, Ces O, 2016, Microfluidic generation of double emulsions as multiphase compartmentalised cell-like systems
Ces O, Elani Y, Karamdad K, et al., 2016, Novel microfluidic technologies for the bottom-up construction of artificial cells
© 2016 Institution of Engineering and Technology. All rights reserved. This talk will outline novel microfluidic strategies for biomembrane engineering that are capable of fabricating vesicles , droplet interface bilayer networks , multisomes  and artificial tissues  where parameters such as membrane asymmetry, membrane curvature, compartment connectivity and individual compartment contents can be controlled. Various bulk methods, such as extrusion, gentle hydration and electroformation, have been synonymous with the formation of lipid vesicles over recent years. However these strategies suffer from significant shortcomings associated with these processes including limited control of vesicle structural parameters such as size, lamellarity, membrane composition and internal contents. To address this technological bottleneck we have developed novel microfluidic platforms to form lipid vesicles in high-Throughput with full control over the composition of both the inner and outer leaflet of the membrane thereby enabling the manufacture of symmetric and asymmetric vesicles. This is achieved by manufacturing microfluidic channels with a step junction, produced by double-layer photolithography, which facilitates the transfer of a W/O emulsion across an oil-water phase boundary and the self-Assembly of a phospholipid bilayer. These platforms are being used to explore the role of asymmetry in biological systems  and study the engineering rules that regulate membrane mediated protein-protein interactions . In addition, these technologies are enabling the construction of biological machines capable of acting as micro-reactors , environmental sensors and smart delivery vehicles  as well as complex multi-compartment artificial cells where the contents and connectivity of each compartment can be controlled. These compartments are separated by biological functional membranes that can facilitate transport between the compartments themselves and between
Carreras P, Elani Y, Law RV, et al., 2015, A microfluidic platform for size-dependent generation of droplet interface bilayer networks on rails, Biomicrofluidics, Vol: 9, ISSN: 1932-1058
Dropletinterface bilayer (DIB) networks are emerging as a cornerstone technology for the bottom up construction of cell-like and tissue-like structures and bio-devices. They are an exciting and versatile model-membrane platform, seeing increasing use in the disciplines of synthetic biology, chemical biology, and membrane biophysics. DIBs are formed when lipid-coated water-in-oil droplets are brought together—oil is excluded from the interface, resulting in a bilayer. Perhaps the greatest feature of the DIB platform is the ability to generate bilayer networks by connecting multiple droplets together, which can in turn be used in applications ranging from tissue mimics, multicellular models, and bio-devices. For such applications, the construction and release of DIB networks of defined size and composition on-demand is crucial. We have developed a droplet-based microfluidic method for the generation of different sized DIB networks (300–1500 pl droplets) on-chip. We do this by employing a droplet-on-rails strategy where droplets are guided down designated paths of a chip with the aid of microfabricated grooves or “rails,” and droplets of set sizes are selectively directed to specific rails using auxiliary flows. In this way we can uniquely produce parallel bilayer networks of defined sizes. By trapping several droplets in a rail, extended DIB networks containing up to 20 sequential bilayers could be constructed. The trapped DIB arrays can be composed of different lipid types and can be released on-demand and regenerated within seconds. We show that chemical signals can be propagated across the bio-network by transplanting enzymatic reaction cascades for inter-droplet communication.
Elani Y, Law RV, Ces O, 2015, Vesicle-based artificial cells: recent developments and prospects for drug delivery, THERAPEUTIC DELIVERY, Vol: 6, Pages: 541-543, ISSN: 2041-5990
Elani Y, 2015, Development of Microfluidic Technologies for the Construction of Multi-Compartment Vesicles and their Applications as Artificial Cells
Elani Y, Law R, Ces O, Vesicle-based artificial cells: recent developments and prospects for drug delivery, Therapeutic delivery, ISSN: 2041-6008
Elani Y, Purushothaman S, Booth PJ, et al., 2015, Measurements of the effect of membrane asymmetry on the mechanical properties of lipid bilayers, CHEMICAL COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 51, Pages: 6976-6979, ISSN: 1359-7345
Elani Y, Law RV, Ces O, 2015, Protein synthesis in artificial cells: using compartmentalisation for spatial organisation in vesicle bioreactors, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, Vol: 17, Pages: 15534-15537, ISSN: 1463-9076
This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.