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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Feb 14;103(7):2021-5. Epub 2006 Feb 6.

Engineering a biospecific communication pathway between cells and electrodes.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, University of Chicago, 5735 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Methods for transducing the cellular activities of mammalian cells into measurable electronic signals are important in many biotechnical applications, including biosensors, cell arrays, and other cell-based devices. This manuscript describes an approach for functionally integrating cellular activities and electrical processes in an underlying substrate. The cells are engineered with a cell-surface chimeric receptor that presents the nonmammalian enzyme cutinase. Action of this cell-surface cutinase on enzyme substrate self-assembled monolayers switches a nonelectroactive hydroxyphenyl ester to an electroactive hydroquinone, providing an electrical activity that can be identified with cyclic voltammetry. In this way, cell-surface enzymatic activity is transduced into electronic signals. The development of strategies to directly interface the activities of cells with materials will be important to enabling a broad class of hybrid microsystems that combine living and nonliving components.

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