Research of the Herminghaus Group

Production and characterization of multifunctional synthetic cells

Synthetic biology appears as an emerging field of research for mimicking natural systems, taking a bottom-up approach for the design of functional biological systems from rather simple building blocks. A key challenge in this field is the fabrication of microcompartments exhibiting tailored physical properties and biological functionalities. Within the MaxSynBio initiative, we develop lab-on-a-chip technologies for the high-throughput production and characterization of multifunctional compartments. We established a novel synthesis routine for functional microcompartments via a microfluidic double-emulsion production platform and the self-assembly of phospholipids and/or block-copolymers. The fabricated microcompartments exhibit tailored functionalities and properties. We demonstrate the validity of the approach, e.g., by successfully mimicking specific adhesive properties of living cells using a biotin-streptavidin functionalization. Besides the development of microfluidic platforms, we provide our expertise in force measurements using micropipette force sensors for the manipulation and characterization of multifunctional synthetic cells.

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