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Research Highlights

Cell Surface Engineering to Control Cellular Interactions


Cell function, such as adhesion, migration and the cell-cell interactions is probably to be controlled by the cell membrane engineering and manipulation, is due to the cell surface composition determines the cell all interaction with the environment. Receptors on the cell surface carry environmental information to major pathways in the cell signaling network, and many surface ligands may be related to other cells or with extracellular materials to regulate extracellular communication. Thus, different strategies or chemical reaction methodologies may be employed functionalized membrane. Cell membrane lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates consisting of a highly complex and dynamic environment, which mediate extracellular communication. Precisely because of this rich molecular library, as a powerful tool to manipulate the interaction between cells and the surrounding environment, the manipulation techniques include chemical conjugation or non-covalent interactions engineered by chemical modifications in the cell membrane and tailored with nanomaterials or coated in cells using layer-by-layer (LbL) strategies to achieve new interactions and control cell functions.

In fact that cell surface engineering is a challenging methodology because of dynamic structure in the cell membrane which lipid and protein components are constantly internalized, replaced, degraded, and replaced by de novo synthesis. Strategies for modifying the cell’s surface that closely control cell behavior from cell adhesion to cell migration, proliferation, or differentiation.

Strategies for cell surface bioengineering

1. Genetic engineering

The modulation of cell surface receptor expression through genetic modification has recently been used to alter cell surface and remodel extracellular communication by incorporating exogenous genetic material into the cell to express or regress specific cell surface molecules to achieve desired outcome. Recent studies have shown that through genetic engineering, enzyme-catalyzed ligations derivatize membrane proteins with ketones, which further expands the range of possible conjugates, and that the precise chemical control provided by aldehyde tag will enable the development of new novel protein products for research and therapy.

2. Chemical modification

Unlike genetic engineering, which is mainly used to manipulate proteins on the surface of cells, chemical modifications can be used to manipulate lipids, proteins, or glycan because such biomolecules are naturally present on the cell surface and their chemical functional groups are attractive sites for functionalization using covalent conjugation. The most commonly used chemical groups include, amines, sulfhydryl, carboxyl, and carbonyl groups are found in proteins and other cell surface molecules, and these specific chemicals are used to treat the surface of cells for purpose.

3. Electrostatic interactions

Layer-by-layer (LBL) self-assembly, which works by depositing alternating layers of material that generally display opposite charges, is a physiologically versatile thin-film fabrication technique. LBL technology shows great potential for cell modification and has been used in a variety of cell types or living tissues, such as pancreatic islets and diverse natural polymers, thanks to its ease of operation, its ability to be performed under mild conditions, and without the need of covalent conjugation.

4. Nanopatches and nanoparticles

Synthetic nanomaterials play an important role in cell surface engineering because of their unique properties and ability to provide functionality that cannot be achieved by single  molecules. Recent research has shown that patches carrying magnetic nanoparticles allow spatial manipulation of cells using magnetic fields, expanding their applications in regenerative medicine. These studies indicate that the cell functionalization approach verifies that cell nanomaterial conjugations may be an ideal cell function remodeling and drug delivery system to effectively improve cell-based therapy.

The goal of cell engineering is to realize in vivo cell migration, cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions, and control of cellular activity. Although there are huge challenges and many problems remain to be solved in cell surface engineering, research results suggests that cell membrane engineering has become an effective method for manipulating cell functions, and cellular nanomodification is a promising way to improve current and future cell-based therapy practices.

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United Kingdom