Molecular & Nanoscale Physics Research Seminar: Dr Julien Reboud

Dr Julien Reboud, of the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, will be presenting a seminar on his research. All are welcome to attend.

Abstract: Building understanding of the behaviors of single living cells within a population is bringing exciting new opportunities in a wide range of different fields, from medical diagnostics and therapies (e.g. in cancer) to tissue engineering for example. Using the unique capabilities of microfluidics to control flows and forces on the scale of single cells (i.e. microns), we show that cells can be concentrated (from dilute samples for example), captured and monitored using imaging techniques to enable studies of specific biomarkers in situ.

Microfluidics also enables to develop ‘protocells’(1), as chassis, based on multiphase systems (such as emulsions) that enable the assembly and implementation of complex genetic circuits in deployable cell-like systems, to test and validate hypotheses in simpler, more controlled systems. These systems have been explored in the literature as minute containers of chemicals to screen for desirable properties of their contents at high throughputs, and molecular biology approaches have enabled us and others to produce specific proteins within the containers. For example, we have expressed membrane-associated proteins in such protocells in microfluidic systems (2) and watched them assemble in the artificial cells using time-resolved techniques (3).

More recently, we have combined our abilities to manufacture artificial cells and that to track single cells in microfluidic systems to reveal new mechanisms linked to the activity of antimicrobial molecules (4). However, as a functional system to perform complex functions (such as theranostics), protocells are required to interface with their environment, a functionality that has not been developed in a useful fashion. Here we present an ‘outside-in’ approach to incorporate membrane proteins (pores and transporters) into the membranes of protocells, providing them with the essential capabilities to perform their function.

In the future, we will explore the integration of functional pores to enable energy transfer, drug delivery, as well as specific uptake of toxic substances.

References [1] Martino C et al. (2012) Protein Expression, Aggregation, and Triggered Release from Polymersomes as Artificial Cell-like Structures. Angew Chem Int Ed 51:6416–6420. [2] Chanasakulniyom M et al. (2012) Expression of membrane-associated proteins within single emulsion cell facsimiles. Analyst 137:2939–2943. [3] Martino C et al. (2012) Cytoskeletal Protein Expression and its Association within the Hydrophobic Membrane of Artificial Cell Models. ChemBioChem 13:792–795. [4] Paterson D et al. (2017) Lipid Topology and Electrostatic Interactions underpin Lytic Activity of Antimicrobial Peptides in Membranes. PNAS 114:1704489

For further details please contact Dr Jung-uk Shim.