Centre for Biological Signalling Studies

Synthesis of a light-controlled phytochrome-based extracellular matrix with reversibly adjustable mechanical properties

Hörner M, Hoess P, Emig R, Rebmann B, Weber W.

Methods Mol Biol. 2020;2173:217-231.

Methods Mol Biol.                 online article

Synthetic extracellular matrices with reversibly adjustable mechanical properties are essential for the investigation of how cells respond to dynamic mechanical cues as occurring in living organisms. One interesting approach to engineer dynamic biomaterials is the incorporation of photoreceptors from cyanobacteria or plants into polymer materials. Here, we give an overview of existing photoreceptor-based biomaterials and describe a detailed protocol for the synthesis of a phytochrome-based extracellular matrix (CyPhyGel). Using cell-compatible light in the red and far-red spectrum, the mechanical properties of this matrix can be adjusted in a fully reversible, wavelength-specific, and dose-dependent manner with high spatiotemporal control.