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A Floating Mould Technique for the Programmed Assembly of Protocells into Protocellular Materials Capable of Non-Equilibrium Biochemical Sensing
preprintsubmitted on 14.12.2020, 17:02 and posted on 16.12.2020, 07:30 by Agostino Galanti, Rafael Moreno Tortolero, Raihan Azad, Stephen Cross, Sean Davis, Pierangelo Gobbo
Despite important breakthroughs in bottom-up synthetic biology have recently been achieved, a major challenge still remains the construction of free-standing, macroscopic and robust materials from protocell building blocks that are stable in water and capable of emergent behaviours. Herein we report a new floating mould technique for the fabrication of millimetre- to centimetre-sized protocellular materials (PCMs) of any shape that overcomes most of the current challenges in prototissue engineering. Significantly, this technique also allowed us to generate 2D periodic arrays of PCMs that displayed an emergent non-equilibrium spatiotemporal sensing behaviour. These arrays were capable of collectively translating the information provided by the external environment and encoded in the form of propagating reaction-diffusion fronts into a readable dynamic signal output. Overall, our methodology opens up a route to the fabrication of macroscopicand robust tissue-like materials with emergent behaviours, providing a new paradigm of bottom-up synthetic biology and biomimetic materials science.