Programming Biomaterial Interactions Using Engineered Living Cells

Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1772:249-265. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7795-6_14.


We have developed a biomaterials interface that allows the properties of a functionalized surface to be controlled by a population of genetically engineered bacteria. This interface was engineered by linking a genetically modified E. coli strain with a chemically functionalized surface. Critically, the E. coli was engineered to upregulate the production of biotin when induced by a small signaling molecule. This biotin would then interact with the functionalized surface to modulate the surface's binding dynamics. In this chapter, we detail three protocols: one protocol for developing a population of biotin-producing genetically engineered cells, and two protocols for creating different types of functionalized surfaces. These methods will enable scientists to readily explore strategies for controlling surface-based material assembly and modification using a linked culture of engineered cells.

Keywords: Biotic-abiotic interface; Biotin; Smart biomaterials; Synthetic biology.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / administration & dosage*
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Biotin / metabolism*
  • Cell Engineering / methods
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Surface Properties / drug effects


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biotin