Photoswitchable azobene-based platform for mechanotransduction

  • upon application of UV light, the subject molecule undergoes photoisomerization from a trans to cis state (image, left)
  • this system also demonstrates the ability to recover, unlocking the ability for a photoswitchable molecule to retain user-defined programmability (image, right)


Project Description

  • Photoswitchable scaffolds are promising platforms for a biophysical understanding of mechanotransduction which allow photomechanical stimulation of cellular proteins at a molecular level. This enables user-defined control of cellular mechanosensing and functions (e.g. cell adhesion and cell differentiation). To address this aspect, we are focused on developing 2D and 3D platforms for cells based on a photoswitchable azobenzene. The reasoning behind this is that azobenzene can under undergo reversible photoisomerization between cis and trans isomers. These platforms enable the use of small forces (~ pN) to investigate probing of mechanical interactions between cellular proteins and photoswitchable azobenzene. Further, these platforms demonstrate the potential for programmable platforms which enable investigation into the dependency of cell adhesion and other cellular properties on stimulation parameters.

  • When azobenzenes are irradiated by UV light, a more stable trans isomer can be converted to a less stable cis isomer. Such switching is promising for biological applications.


Related Publications

  • Christian J; Blumberg JW; Probst D; Lo Giudice C; Sindt SSelhuber-Unkel C; Schwarz US; Cavalcanti-Adam EA. "Control of Cell Adhesion using Hydrogel Patterning Techniques for Applications in Traction Force Microscopy". JoVE, 2022, 179, e63121. link
  • Spratte TGeiger, SColombo, FMishra, ATaale, M; Hsu, LY; Blasco, E; Selhuber-Unkel, C. "Increasing the Efficiency of Thermoresponsive Actuation at the Microscale by Direct Laser Writing of pNIPAM". Adv. Mater. Technol.2022, 2200714. link
  • Hsu LY; Mainik P; Munchinger A; Lindenthal S; Spratte T; Welle A; Zaumseil J; Selhuber-Unkel C; Wegener M; Blasco E. "A Facile Approach for 4D Microprinting of Multi-Photoresponsive Actuators". Adv. Mater. Technol. 2022, 2200801. link
  • Kadem LF; Suana KG; Holz M; Wang W; Westerhaus H; Herges R; Selhuber-Unkel C, "High Frequency Mechanostimulation of Cell Adhesion". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2017, 56, 225-229. link
  • Kadem LF; Holz M; Suana KG; Li QLamprecht C; Herges R; Selhuber-Unkel C. "Rapid Reversible Photoswitching of Integrin-mediated Adhesion at the Single-Cell Level". Adv. Mater.2016, 28, 1799-1802. link

Sponsoring Agency

  • 3D model of z-scan setup to measure two photon cross section of azobenzene.