Using Synthetic Biology to Engineer Living Cells That Interface With Programmable Materials

J Vis Exp. 2017 Mar 9;(121):55300. doi: 10.3791/55300.


We have developed an abiotic-biotic interface that allows engineered cells to control the material properties of a functionalized surface. This system is made by creating two modules: a synthetically engineered strain of E. coli cells and a functionalized material interface. Within this paper, we detail a protocol for genetically engineering selected behaviors within a strain of E. coli using molecular cloning strategies. Once developed, this strain produces elevated levels of biotin when exposed to a chemical inducer. Additionally, we detail protocols for creating two different functionalized surfaces, each of which is able to respond to cell-synthesized biotin. Taken together, we present a methodology for creating a linked, abiotic-biotic system that allows engineered cells to control material composition and assembly on nonliving substrates.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Cell Engineering / methods*
  • Escherichia coli / cytology*
  • Synthetic Biology / methods*