In vivo Bioengineering of Fluorescent Conductive Protein-Dye Microfibers
51 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2020 Sneak Peek Status: Under ReviewMore...
Engineering protein-based biomaterials is extremely challenging in bioelectronics, medicine and materials science, as mechanical, electrical and optical properties need to be merged to biocompatibility and resistance to biodegradation, when interfacing with a biological entity. An effective strategy is the engineering of physiological processes in situ, in a non-invasive way, by addition of new properties to endogenous components, producing hybrid materials with new functionality. In this direction, here we show that a green fluorescent semiconducting thiophene dye, DTTO, promotes, in vivo, the biogenesis of fluorescent conductive protein microfibers via metabolic pathways. By challenging the simple freshwater organism Hydra vulgaris with DTTO, we demonstrate the stable incorporation of the dye into supramolecular protein-dye co-assembled microfibers without signs of toxicity. An integrated multilevel analysis including morphological, optical, spectroscopical and electrical characterization shows electrical conductivity of biofibers, opening the door to new opportunities for augmenting electronic functionalities within living tissue, which may be exploited for regulation of cell and animal physiology, or in pathological contexts where enhancing of bioelectrical signaling is demanded.
Keywords: conductive microfibers, in vivo biosynthesis, Hydra vulgaris, organic bioelectronics thiophene fluorescent dyes, in vivo supramolecular organisation, protein-dye co-assembly
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