Live Cell Lithography: Using Optical Tweezers to Create Synthetic Tissue
Lab Chip, Issue 12, 2174-2181 (2008) https://doi.org/10.1039/B807987K
We demonstrate a new method for creating synthetic tissue that has the potential to capture the three dimensional (3D) complexity of a multi-cellular organism with submicron precision. Using multiple laminar fluid flows in a microfluidic network, we convey cells to an assembly area where multiple, time shared optical tweezers are used to organize them into a complex array. The cells are then encapsulated in a 30 μm × 30 μm × 45 μm volume of photopolymerizable hydrogel that mimicks an extra-cellular matrix. To extend the size, shape and constituency of the array without loss of viability, we then step to an adjacent location while maintaining registration with the reference array, and repeat the process. Using this step-and-repeat method, we formed a heterogeneous array of E. coli genetically engineered with a lac switch that is functionally linked to fluorescence reporters. We then induced the array using ligands through a microfluidic network and followed the space-time development of the fluorescence to evaluate viability and metabolic activity.