The present work introduces a new method for the fabrication of protein micro-patterns, microcontact printing trapping air. The method is based on microcontact printing, a well-established soft-lithographic technique for printing bioactive protein patterns. Usually, the stamp used is made of poly(dimethylsiloxane) obtained by replicating a lithographically microfabricated silicon master. In microcontact printing, the dimensions of the features in the stamp are critical, since the high compressibility of poly(dimethylsiloxane) causes high aspect ratio features to collapse, leading to the printing of undesired areas. In most cases, this is an unwanted effect, which interferes with the printing quality. In this work we used a poly(dimethylsiloxane)stamp bearing an array of micro-posts which, when placed over a flat surface, collapses with consequent formation of an air gap around the entire array. This effect is linked to the distance between the posts that form the array and can be exploited for the fabrication of protein microarrays having a remarkably low background noise for fluorescence detection.
The understanding and control of cell growth in confined microenvironments has application to a variety of fields including cell biosensor development, medical device fabrication, and pathogen control. While the majority of work in these areas has focused on mammalian and bacterial cell growth, this study reports on the growth behavior of fungal cells in three-dimensionally confined PDMS microenvironments of a scale similar to that of individual hyphae. The general responses of hyphae to physical confinement included continued apical extension against barriers, resultant filament bending and increased rates of subapical branching with apparent directionality towards structure openings. Overall, these responses promoted continued extension of hyphae through the confined areas and away from the distal regions of the fungal colony. The induction of branching by apical obstruction provides a means of controlling the growth and branching of fungal hyphae through purposefully designed microstructures.
The understanding and control of cell growth in confined microenvironments has application to a variety of fields including cell biosensor development, medical device fabrication, and pathogen control. While the majority of work in these areas has focused on mammalian and bacterial cell growth, this study reports on the growth behavior of fungal cells in three-dimensionally PDMS microenvironments of a scale similar to that of individual hyphae. Confinement was found to affect filament branching rate and angle. Overall, fungal hyphae demonstrate much more coordinated behavior during confinement than observed during growth on simple planar unconfined substrates. The remarkable difference of fungal growth behaviour observed in the PDMS microenvironments compared to open, unrestricted environments suggests that three-dimensional microstructures could be used to control and alter fungal motility.
The adsorption of five proteins with very different molecular characteristics, i.e. α-chymotrypsin, human serum albumin, human immunoglobulin, lysozyme, and myoglobin, has been characterized using quantitative fluorescence measurements and atomic force microscopy. It has been found that the 'combinatorial' nature of the micro/nano-channels surface allows for the increased adsorption of molecularly different proteins, comparing with the adsorption on flat surfaces. This amplification increases for proteins with lower molecular surface that can capitalize better on the newly created surface and nano-environments. Importantly, the adsorption on micro/nano-fabricated structures appears to be less dependent on the local molecular descriptors, i.e. hydrophobicity and charges, due to the combinatorialization of the nano-areas presented to the proteins. The amplification of adsorption is important, ranging from 3- to 10-fold, with a higher amplification for smaller, globular proteins.
Investigation of protein-polymeric surface interaction requires reliable practical techniques for evaluation of the efficiency of protein immobilization. In this study the efficiency of protein immobilization was evaluated using three different techniques: (1) protein-binding assay with fluorescent detection and (2) quantification, and (3) atomic force microscopy. This approach enables us to rapidly analyse the adsorption properties of different proteins. The comparative physico-chemical adsorption of α-chymotrypsin, human serum albumin, human immunoglobulin, lysozyme, and myoglobin in the micro-wells fabricated via a localized laser ablation of a protein-blocked thin gold layer (50 nm) deposited on a Poly(methyl ethacrylate) film has been studied. Correlations were observed between the quantitative and qualitative differences depending on both protein and polymeric surface hydrophobicity.
Diazonaphthoquinone/novolak (DNQ) photoresist have the property of changing physical-chemical properties during exposure to UV light, which reflects in a change of the polymer hydrophobicity. A combinatorial surface having different exposed area was fabricated, in order to study the influence of hydrophobicity over protein adsorption and EDC-mediated covalent attachment. The results indicate two different behaviours, reflecting a substantial different mechanism of interaction. While protein adsorption decreased following the hydrophobicity decrease, covalent attachment increased, thus reflecting the effectiveness of the covalent mediator, which cross-links the protein to the carboxylic groups that form during exposure. Based on the results of the present work, a combinatorial microarray will be fabricated, to be used in the biosensor field.