Imperial College London

DrYuvalElani

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Chemical Engineering

Lecturer
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 1824y.elani Website

 
 
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Location

 

207HMolecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

47 results found

Pazos MD, Hu Y, Elani Y, Browning KL, Jiang N, Yetisen AKet al., 2021, Tattoo inks for optical biosensing in interstitial fluid, Advanced Healthcare Materials, ISSN: 2192-2640

The persistence of traditional tattoo inks presents an advantage for continuous andlong-term health monitoring in point of care devices. The replacement of tattoo pigments withoptical biosensors aims a promising alternative for monitoring blood biomarkers. Tattoo inksfunctionalization enables the control of interstitial biomarkers with correlated concentrations inplasma, to diagnose diseases, evaluate progression, and prevent complications associated withphysio pathological disorders or medication mismatches. The specific biomarkers in interstitialfluid provide a new source of information, especially for skin diseases. The study of tattoo inksdisplays insufficient regulation in their composition, a lack of reports of the relatedcomplications and a need for further studies on their degradation kinetics. This review focuseson tattoo optical biosensors for monitoring dermal interstitial biomarkers and discusses theyclinical advantages and main challenges for in vivo implantation. Tattoo functionalizationprovides a minimally invasive, reversible, biocompatible, real-time sensing with long-termpermanence and multiplexing capabilities for the control, diagnosis, and prevention of illness;it enables self-controlling management by the patient, but also the possibility of sending therecords to the doctor.

Journal article

Lucey M, Ashik T, Marzook A, Wang Y, Goulding J, Oishi A, Broichhagen J, Hodson D, Minnion J, Elani Y, Jockers R, Briddon S, Bloom S, Tomas A, Jones Bet al., 2021, Acylation of the incretin peptide exendin-4 directly impacts GLP-1 receptor signalling and trafficking, Molecular Pharmacology, ISSN: 0026-895X

The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is a class B G protein-coupled receptor and mainstay therapeutic target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Recent reports have highlighted how biased agonism at the GLP-1R affects sustained glucose-stimulated insulin secretion through avoidance of desensitisation and downregulation. A number of GLP-1R agonists (GLP-1RAs) feature a fatty acid moiety to prolong their pharmacokinetics via increased albumin binding, but the potential for these chemical changes to influence GLP-1R function has rarely been investigated beyond potency assessments for cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Here we directly compare the prototypical GLP-1RA exendin-4 with its C-terminally acylated analogue, exendin-4-C16. We examine relative propensities of each ligand to recruit and activate G proteins and β-arrestins, endocytic and post-endocytic trafficking profiles, and interactions with model and cellular membranes in HEK293 and HEK293T cells. Both ligands had similar cAMP potency but exendin-4-C16 showed ~2.5-fold bias towards G protein recruitment and a ~60% reduction in β-arrestin-2 recruitment efficacy compared to exendin-4, as well as reduced GLP-1R endocytosis and preferential targeting towards recycling pathways. These effects were associated with reduced movement of the GLP-1R extracellular domain measured using a conformational biosensor approach, and a ~70% increase in insulin secretion in INS-1 832/3 cells. Interactions with plasma membrane lipids were enhanced by the acyl chain. Exendin-4-C16 showed extensive albumin binding and was highly effective for lowering of blood glucose in mice over at least 72 hours. Our study highlights the importance of a broad approach to the evaluation of GLP-1RA pharmacology.

Journal article

Ip T, Li Q, Brooks N, Elani Yet al., 2021, Manufacture of Multilayered Artificial Cell Membranes through Sequential Bilayer Deposition on Emulsion Templates., Chembiochem, Vol: 22, Pages: 2275-2281

Efforts to manufacture artificial cells that replicate the architectures, processes and behaviours of biological cells are rapidly increasing. Perhaps the most commonly reconstructed cellular structure is the membrane, through the use of unilamellar vesicles as models. However, many cellular membranes, including bacterial double membranes, nuclear envelopes, and organelle membranes, are multilamellar. Due to a lack of technologies available for their controlled construction, multilayered membranes are not part of the repertoire of cell-mimetic motifs used in bottom-up synthetic biology. To address this, we developed emulsion-based technologies that allow cell-sized multilayered vesicles to be produced layer-by-layer, with compositional control over each layer, thus enabling studies that would otherwise remain inaccessible. We discovered that bending rigidities scale with the number of layers and demonstrate inter-bilayer registration between coexisting liquid-liquid domains. These technologies will contribute to the exploitation of multilayered membrane structures, paving the way for incorporating protein complexes that span multiple bilayers.

Journal article

Allen ME, Elani Y, Brooks NJ, Seddon Jet al., 2021, The effect of headgroup methylation on polymorphic phase behaviour in hydrated N-methylated phosphoethanolamine: palmitic acid membranes, Soft Matter, Vol: 17, Pages: 5763-5771, ISSN: 1744-683X

Mixtures of fatty acids and phospholipids can form hexagonal (HII) and inverse bicontinuous cubic phases, the latter of which are implicated in various cellular processes and have wide-ranging biotechnological applications in protein crystallisation and drug delivery systems. Therefore, it is vitally important to understand the formation conditions of inverse bicontinuous cubic phases and how their properties can be tuned. We have used differential scanning calorimetry and synchrotron-based small angle and wide angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) to investigate the polymorphic phase behaviour of palmitic acid/ partially-methylated phospholipid mixtures, and how headgroup methylation impacts on inverse bicontinuous cubic phase formation. We find that upon partial methylation of the phospholipid headgroup (1 or 2 methyl substituents) inverse bicontinuous cubic phases are formed (of the Im3m spacegroup), which is not the case with 0 or 3 methyl substituents. This shows how important headgroup methylation is for controlling phase behaviour and how a change in headgroup methylation can be used to controllably tune various inverse bicontinuous phase features such as their lattice parameter and the temperature range of their stability.

Journal article

Zhang S, Contini C, Hindley J, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, Ces Oet al., 2021, Engineering motile aqueous phase-separated droplets via liposome stabilisation, Nature Communications, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 2041-1723

There are increasing efforts to engineer functional compartments that mimic cellular behaviours from the bottom-up. One behaviour that is receiving particular attention is motility, due to its biotechnological potential and ubiquity in living systems. Many existing platforms make use of the Marangoni effect to achieve motion in water/oil (w/o) droplet systems. However, most of these systems are unsuitable for biological applications due to biocompatibility issues caused by the presence of oil phases. Here we report a biocompatible all aqueous (w/w) PEG/dextran Pickering-like emulsion system consisting of liposome-stabilised cell-sized droplets, where the stability can be easily tuned by adjusting liposome composition and concentration. We demonstrate that the compartments are capable of negative chemotaxis: these droplets can respond to a PEG/dextran polymer gradient through directional motion down to the gradient. The biocompatibility, motility and partitioning abilities of this droplet system offers new directions to pursue research in motion-related biological processes.

Journal article

Elani Y, 2021, Interfacing living and synthetic cells as an emerging frontier in synthetic biology, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Vol: 60, Pages: 5602-5611, ISSN: 1433-7851

The construction of artificial cells from inanimate molecular building blocks is one of the grand challenges of our time. In addition to being used as simplified cell models to decipher the rules of life, artificial cells have the potential to be designed as micromachines deployed in a host of clinical and industrial applications. The attractions of engineering artificial cells from scratch, as opposed to re‐engineering living biological cells, are varied. However, it is clear that artificial cells cannot currently match the power and behavioural sophistication of their biological counterparts. Given this, many in the synthetic biology community have started to ask: is it possible to interface biological and artificial cells together to create hybrid living/synthetic systems that leverage the advantages of both? This article will discuss the motivation behind this cellular bionics approach, in which the boundaries between living and non‐living matter are blurred by bridging top‐down and bottom‐up synthetic biology. It details the state of play of this nascent field and introduces three generalised hybridisation modes that have emerged.

Journal article

Pilkington CP, Seddon JM, Elani Y, 2021, Microfluidic technologies for the synthesis and manipulation of biomimetic membranous nano-assemblies., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol: 23, Pages: 3693-3706, ISSN: 1463-9076

Microfluidics has been proposed as an attractive alternative to conventional bulk methods used in the generation of self-assembled biomimetic structures, particularly where there is a desire for more scalable production. The approach also allows for greater control over the self-assembly process, and parameters such as particle architecture, size, and composition can be finely tuned. Microfluidic techniques used in the generation of microscale assemblies (giant vesicles and higher-order multi-compartment assemblies) are fairly well established. These tend to rely on microdroplet templation, and the resulting structures have found use as comparmentalised motifs in artificial cells. Challenges in generating sub-micron droplets have meant that reconfiguring this approach to form nano-scale structures is not straightforward. This is beginning to change however, and recent technological advances have instigated the manufacture and manipulation of an increasingly diverse repertoire of biomimetic nano-assemblies, including liposomes, polymersomes, hybrid particles, multi-lamellar structures, cubosomes, hexosomes, nanodiscs, and virus-like particles. The following review will discuss these higher-order self-assembled nanostructures, including their biochemical and industrial applications, and techniques used in their production and analysis. We suggest ways in which existing technologies could be repurposed for the enhanced design, manufacture, and exploitation of these structures and discuss potential challenges and future research directions. By compiling recent advances in this area, it is hoped we will inspire future efforts toward establishing scalable microfluidic platforms for the generation of biomimetic nanoparticles of enhanced architectural and functional complexity.

Journal article

Vivek A, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, 2020, Fusing artificial cell compartments and lipid domains using optical traps: a tool to modulate membrane composition and phase behaviour, Micromachines, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2072-666X

New technologies for manipulating biomembranes have vast potential to aid the understanding of biological phenomena, and as tools to sculpt novel artificial cell architectures for synthetic biology. The manipulation and fusion of vesicles using optical traps is amongst the most promising due to the level of spatiotemporal control it affords. Herein, we conduct a suite of feasibility studies to show the potential of optical trapping technologies to (i) modulate the lipid composition of a vesicle by delivering new membrane material through fusion events and (ii) manipulate and controllably fuse coexisting membrane domains for the first time. We also outline some noteworthy morphologies and transitions that the vesicle undergoes during fusion, which gives us insight into the mechanisms at play. These results will guide future exploitation of laser-assisted membrane manipulation methods and feed into a technology roadmap for this emerging technology.

Journal article

Hindley JW, Zheleva DG, Elani Y, Charalambous K, Barter LMC, Booth PJ, Bevan CL, Law RV, Ces Oet al., 2019, Building a synthetic mechanosensitive signaling pathway in compartmentalized artificial cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol: 116, Pages: 16711-16716, 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.

Journal article

Friddin MS, Elani Y, Trantidou T, Ces Oet 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.

Journal article

Ces O, Elani Y, 2019, Community building in synthetic biology., Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.), Vol: 244, Pages: 281-282, ISSN: 0037-9727

Journal article

Friddin M, Bolognesi G, Salehi-Reyhani A, Ces O, Elani Yet al., 2019, Direct manipulation of liquid ordered lipid membrane domains using optical traps, Communications Chemistry, Vol: 2, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 2399-3669

Multicomponent lipid bilayers can give rise to coexisting liquid domains that are thought to influence a host of cellular activities. There currently exists no method to directly manipulate such domains, hampering our understanding of their significance. Here we report a system that allows individual liquid ordered domains that exist in a liquid disordered matrix to be directly manipulated using optical tweezers. This allows us to drag domains across the membrane surface of giant vesicles that are adhered to a glass surface, enabling domain location to be defined with spatiotemporal control. We can also use the laser to select individual vesicles in a population to undergo mixing/demixing by locally heating the membrane through the miscibility transition, demonstrating a further layer of control. This technology has potential as a tool to shed light on domain biophysics, on their role in biology, and in sculpting membrane assemblies with user-defined membrane patterning.

Journal article

Trantidou T, Dekker L, Polizzi K, Ces O, Elani Yet 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.

Journal article

Trantidou T, Friddin M, Salehi-Reyhani S, Ces O, Elani Yet 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.

Journal article

Bolognesi G, Friddin MS, Salehi-Reyhani S, Barlow N, Brooks NJ, Ces O, Elani Yet al., 2018, Sculpting and fusing biomimetic vesicle networks using optical tweezers, Nature Communications, Vol: 9, Pages: 1-11, 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.

Journal article

Karamdad K, Hindley J, Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Law RV, Brooks NJ, Ces O, Elani Yet 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.

Journal article

Hindley JW, Elani Y, McGilvery CM, Ali S, Bevan CL, Law R, Ces Oet al., 2018, Light-triggered enzymatic reactions in nested vesicle reactors, Nature Communications, Vol: 9, Pages: 1-6, 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.

Journal article

Elani Y, Trantidou T, Wylie D, Dekker L, Polizzi K, Law R, Ces Oet al., 2018, Constructing vesicle-based artificial cells with embedded living cells as organelle-like modules, Scientific Reports, Vol: 8, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 2045-2322

There is increasing interest in constructing artificial cells by functionalising lipid vesicles with biological and synthetic machinery. Due to their reduced complexity and lack of evolved biochemical pathways, the capabilities of artificial cells are limited in comparison to their biological counterparts. 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 synthetic cell assembly. Using microfluidic technologies to construct such hybrid cellular bionic 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, while the cell acts as a bioreactor module that processes encapsulated feedstock which is further processed by a synthetic enzymatic metabolism co-encapsulated in the vesicle.

Journal article

Thomas JM, Friddin MS, Ces O, Elani Yet 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.

Journal article

de Bruin A, Friddin MS, Elani Y, Brooks N, Law R, Seddon J, Ces Oet 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.

Journal article

Trantidou T, Friddin M, Elani Y, Brooks NJ, Law RV, Seddon JM, Ces Oet 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.

Journal article

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.

Journal article

Trantidou T, Elani Y, Parsons E, Ces Oet 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.

Journal article

Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, Brooks N, Law R, Seddon J, Neil M, ces Oet 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.

Journal article

Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, Brooks N, Law R, Seddon J, Neil M, Ces Oet al., 2016, The optical assembly of bilayer networks from cell-sized droplets for synthetic biology, Systems and Synthetic Biology

Conference paper

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.

Journal article

Friddin MS, Bolognesi G, Elani Y, Brooks N, Law R, Seddon J, Neil M, Ces Oet al., 2016, Optical tweezers to assemble 2D and 3D droplet interface bilayer networks from cell-sized droplets, EMBL Microfluidics

Conference paper

Elani Y, Solvas XC, Edel JB, Law RV, Ces Oet 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.

Journal article

Ces O, Elani Y, Karamdad K, Friddin MS, Barter LMC, Bolognesi G, Law RV, Chan CL, Brooks NJ, Seddon JMet al., 2016, Novel microfluidic technologies for the bottom-up construction of artificial cells

This talk will outline novel microfluidic strategies for biomembrane engineering that are capable of fabricating vesicles [1], droplet interface bilayer networks [2], multisomes [3] and artificial tissues [4] 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 [1] and study the engineering rules that regulate membrane mediated protein-protein interactions [5]. In addition, these technologies are enabling the construction of biological machines capable of acting as micro-reactors [6], environmental sensors and smart delivery vehicles [5] 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 the compartments and external environment. This approach has led to the deve

Conference paper

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