CNMS RESEARCH

Micro/nanofabricated environments for synthetic biology

C. Patrick Collier and Michael L. Simpson

Nanofabrication Research Laboratory, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6493

A better understanding of how confinement, crowding and reduced dimensionality modulate reactivity and reaction dynamics will aid in the rational and systematic discovery of functionality in complex biological systems. Artificial micro- and nanofabricated structures have helped elucidate the effects of nanoscale spatial confinement and segregation on biological behavior, particularly when integrated with microfluidics, through precise control in both space and time of diffusible signals and binding interactions. A recent review article in Current Opinion in Biotechnology describes the development and refinement of nanostructured interfaces for synthetic biology, carried out at the Nanofabrication Research Laboratory at the CNMS and by others. Examples include the development of cell-like compartments for encapsulating biochemical reactions, nanostructured environments for fundamental studies of diffusion, molecular transport and biochemical reaction kinetics, and regulation of biomolecular interactions as functions of micro- and nanofabricated topological constraints.

This research was supported by the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, by the Scientific User Facilities Division, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Science, Department of Energy. The research was published as a review article as C. Patrick Collier and Michael L. Simpson (2011), “Micro/nanofabricated environments for synthetic biology,” Current Opinion in Biotechnology vol. 906, 22: 1-11, June 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.05.002.