Growth and site-specific organization of micron-scale biomolecular devices on living mammalian cells

Sisi Jia, Siew Cheng Phua, Yuta Nihongaki, Yizeng Li, Michael Pacella, Yi Li, Abdul M. Mohammed, Sean Sun, Takanari Inoue, Rebecca Schulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mesoscale molecular assemblies on the cell surface, such as cilia and filopodia, integrate information, control transport and amplify signals. Designer cell-surface assemblies could control these cellular functions. Such assemblies could be constructed from synthetic components ex vivo, making it possible to form such structures using modern nanoscale self-assembly and fabrication techniques, and then oriented on the cell surface. Here we integrate synthetic devices, micron-scale DNA nanotubes, with mammalian cells by anchoring them by their ends to specific cell surface receptors. These filaments can measure shear stresses between 0-2 dyn/cm2, a regime important for cell signaling. Nanotubes can also grow while anchored to cells, thus acting as dynamic cell components. This approach to cell surface engineering, in which synthetic biomolecular assemblies are organized with existing cellular architecture, could make it possible to build new types of sensors, machines and scaffolds that can interface with, control and measure properties of cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5729
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Growth and site-specific organization of micron-scale biomolecular devices on living mammalian cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this