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Nano Research

Article Title

Reversible hydrogels with tunable mechanical properties for optically controlling cell migration

Authors

Xin Wu, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructure, and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Wenmao Huang, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructure, and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Wen-Hao Wu, Key Laboratory of Polymer Chemistry & Physics of Ministry of Education, Center for Soft Matter Science and Engineering, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
Bin Xue, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructure, and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Dongfang Xiang, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructure, and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Ying Li, Collaborative Innovation Center of Atmospheric Environment and Equipment Technology, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
Meng Qin, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructure, and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Fei Sun, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Division of BioMedical Engineering, and Center for Systems Biology & Human Health, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Wei Wang, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructure, and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Wen-Bin Zhang, Key Laboratory of Polymer Chemistry & Physics of Ministry of Education, Center for Soft Matter Science and Engineering, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
Yi Cao, Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures, National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructure, and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China

Keywords

Dronpa, photo-responsive, hydrogel, mechanical properties, cell migration, artificial extracellular matrix

Abstract

ABSTRACT Synthetic hydrogels are widely used as biomimetic in vitro model systems to understand how cells respond to complex microenvironments. The mechanical properties of hydrogels are deterministic for many cellular behaviors, including cell migration, spreading, and differentiation. However, it remains a major challenge to engineer hydrogels that recapture the dynamic mechanical properties of native extracellular matrices. Here, we provide a new hydrogel platform with spatiotemporally tunable mechanical properties to assay and define cellular behaviors under light. The change in the mechanical properties of the hydrogel is effected by a photo-induced switch of the cross-linker fluorescent protein, Dronpa145N, between the tetrameric and monomeric states, which causes minimal changes to the chemical properties of the hydrogel. The mechanical properties can be rapidly and reversibly tuned for multiple cycles using visible light, as confirmed by rheological measurements and atomic force microscopybased nano-indentation. We further demonstrated real-time and reversible modulation of cell migration behaviors on the hydrogels through photo-induced stiffness switching, with minimal invasion to the cultured cells. Hydrogels with a programmable mechanical history and a spatially defined mechanical hierarchy might serve as an ideal model system to better understand complex cellular functions.

Graphical Abstract

Publisher

Tsinghua University Press

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