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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Jun 8;133(22):8704-13. doi: 10.1021/ja2022569. Epub 2011 May 11.

Synthetic chemoselective rewiring of cell surfaces: generation of three-dimensional tissue structures.

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Department of Chemistry and Carolina Center for Genome Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3290, USA.


Proper cell-cell communication through physical contact is crucial for a range of fundamental biological processes including, cell proliferation, migration, differentiation, and apoptosis and for the correct function of organs and other multicellular tissues. The spatial and temporal arrangements of these cellular interactions in vivo are dynamic and lead to higher-order function that is extremely difficult to recapitulate in vitro. The development of three-dimensional (3D), in vitro model systems to investigate these complex, in vivo interconnectivities would generate novel methods to study the biochemical signaling of these processes, as well as provide platforms for tissue engineering technologies. Herein, we develop and employ a strategy to induce specific and stable cell-cell contacts in 3D through chemoselective cell-surface engineering based on liposome delivery and fusion to display bio-orthogonal functional groups from cell membranes. This strategy uses liposome fusion for the delivery of ketone or oxyamine groups to different populations of cells for subsequent cell assembly via oxime ligation. We demonstrate how this method can be used for several applications including, the delivery of reagents to cells for fluorescent labeling and cell-surface engineering, the formation of small, 3D spheroid cell assemblies, and the generation of large and dense, 3D multilayered tissue-like structures for tissue engineering applications.

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