Mussel adhesive inspires tough coating for living cells

April 6, 2011, American Chemical Society

Inspired by Mother Nature, scientists are reporting development of a protective coating with the potential to enable living cells to survive in a dormant condition for long periods despite intense heat, dryness and other hostile conditions. In a report in Journal of the American Chemical Society, they liken the coating to the armor that encloses the spores that protect anthrax and certain other bacterial cells, making those microbes difficult to kill.

Insung S. Choi and colleagues say their simple method for coating the yeast cells could "serve as a new strategy for controlling cell division and protection of artificial spore like structures in a designed way." The technique could be used to encapsulate individual cells for a variety of purposes, including the creation of tiny chemical probes, single-cell chemical factories, and perhaps armor for transplanted cells used in anti-cancer therapies.

The new coating is an called polydopamine, chemically similar to mussel adhesive. In laboratory experiments, the coating slowed down cell division in the yeast, while protecting them from cell-digesting chemicals. "We believe that polydopamine encapsulation would be a good starting point for both fundamental research and applications based on artificial ," Choi and colleagues note in their study, "as it endows living cells with durability against harsh environments, controllability in cell cycles, and reactivity for cell-surface modification."

Explore further: Yeast in a shell: Coating individual living yeast cells with silicon dioxide

Related Stories

Nanotube Coating Meshes with Living Cells

August 14, 2006

Using a polymer coating that mimics part of a cell’s outer membrane, a team of investigators at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a versatile method for targeting carbon nanotubes to specific types ...

MIT works toward novel therapeutic device

October 22, 2007

MIT and University of Rochester researchers report important advances toward a therapeutic device that has the potential to capture cells as they flow through the blood stream and treat them. Among other applications, such ...

Researchers track how spores break out of dormant state

June 4, 2007

Tapping into the unknown world of awakening dormant bacterial spores, researchers have revealed through atomic force microscopy (AFM) the alterations of spore coat and germ cell wall that accompany the transformation from ...

Recommended for you

A new polymer raises the bar for lithium-sulfur batteries

January 18, 2018

Lithium-sulfur batteries are promising candidates for replacing common lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles since they are cheaper, weigh less, and can store nearly double the energy for the same mass. However, lithium-sulfur ...

Looking to the sun to create hydrogen fuel

January 18, 2018

When Lawrence Livermore scientist Tadashi Ogitsu leased a hydrogen fuel-cell car in 2017, he knew that his daily commute would change forever. There are no greenhouse gases that come out of the tailpipe, just a bit of water ...

The early bits of life

January 18, 2018

How can life originate before DNA and genes? One possibility is that there are natural processes that lead to the organisation of simple physical objects such as small microcapsules that undergo rudimentary forms of interaction, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.