Although the usual image of a cell is an amorphous blob, these mouse cells settled into well-defined polygonal shapes thanks to a patterning system stamped onto the surface the cells are sitting on. To stretch the cells into the shape of their choosing, researchers led by Zheng Liu and Wei Chen of Wuhan University created patterns of DNA-coated nanoparticles by dipping a stamp with various micro-sized designs on it into a nanoparticle solution then pressing the stamp onto a glass surface. When the cells came in contact with the stamped patterns, they bound strongly to the DNA and stretched and squeezed to cover each stamped shape. The kicker is that the DNA the researchers used doubles as microscopic fluorescent force sensor, so they were able to see how the cells sensed and reacted to strain after they deformed—information that could be useful in tissue engineering.
Credit: Feng Sun/Wuhan University. Read the paper in ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.3c07088.
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