Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Synthesis and patterning of tunable multiscale materials with engineered cells.

Authors: Chen, Allen Y; Deng, Zhengtao; Billings, Amanda N; Seker, Urartu O S; Lu, Michelle Y; Citorik, Robert J; Zakeri, Bijan; Lu, Timothy K

Published In Nat Mater, (2014 May)

Abstract: Many natural biological systems--such as biofilms, shells and skeletal tissues--are able to assemble multifunctional and environmentally responsive multiscale assemblies of living and non-living components. Here, by using inducible genetic circuits and cellular communication circuits to regulate Escherichia coli curli amyloid production, we show that E. coli cells can organize self-assembling amyloid fibrils across multiple length scales, producing amyloid-based materials that are either externally controllable or undergo autonomous patterning. We also interfaced curli fibrils with inorganic materials, such as gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and quantum dots (QDs), and used these capabilities to create an environmentally responsive biofilm-based electrical switch, produce gold nanowires and nanorods, co-localize AuNPs with CdTe/CdS QDs to modulate QD fluorescence lifetimes, and nucleate the formation of fluorescent ZnS QDs. This work lays a foundation for synthesizing, patterning, and controlling functional composite materials with engineered cells.

PubMed ID: 24658114 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Bacterial Proteins/biosynthesis; Bacterial Proteins/genetics; Biocompatible Materials/chemistry*; Biocompatible Materials/metabolism*; Biofilms; Cell Engineering/methods*; Escherichia coli Proteins/genetics; Escherichia coli Proteins/metabolism; Escherichia coli/genetics; Escherichia coli/metabolism; Gold/chemistry; Materials Testing; Metal Nanoparticles/chemistry; Metal Nanoparticles/ultrastructure; Microscopy, Electron, Scanning; Nanotechnology; Quantum Dots/chemistry

to Top