American Chemical Society
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Cell to Cell Signaling through Light in Artificial Cell Communities: Glowing Predator Lures Prey

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posted on 2021-06-21, 16:34 authored by Taniya Chakraborty, Seraphine V. Wegner
Cells commonly communicate with each other through diffusible molecules but nonchemical communication remains elusive. While bioluminescent organisms communicate through light to find prey or attract mates, it is still under debate if signaling through light is possible at the cellular level. Here, we demonstrate that cell to cell signaling through light is possible in artificial cell communities derived from biomimetic vesicles. In our design, artificial sender cells produce an intracellular light signal, which triggers the adhesion to receiver cells. Unlike soluble molecules, the light signal propagates fast, independent of diffusion and without the need for a transporter across membranes. To obtain a predator–prey relationship, the luminescence predator cells is loaded with a secondary diffusible poison, which is transferred to the prey cell upon adhesion and leads to its lysis. This design provides a blueprint for light based intercellular communication, which can be used for programing artificial and natural cell communities.