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Biomolecular Tools for Noninvasive Imaging and Manipulation of Engineered Cells


Wu, Di (2021) Biomolecular Tools for Noninvasive Imaging and Manipulation of Engineered Cells. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/dt22-nv14.


Today’s most advanced tools for imaging and controlling cellular function are based on fluorescent or light-controlled proteins, which have limited utility in large organisms or engineered living materials due to the scattering of photons. Deeply penetrant forms of energy such as magnetic fields and sound waves, while routinely used to monitor and treat diseases on the tissue and organism level, do not process the equivalent set of biomolecular tools for interfacing with biology on the molecular and cellular level. Emerging technologies discussed in this thesis aim to bridge this gap by harnessing biomolecules that have the appropriate physical properties to interact with sound waves or magnetic fields in such a way that enables the visualization and control of specific cells (Chapter 1). We describe two additions to the expanding toolkit for noninvasive imaging and control. In the first case, we show that gas vesicles, a class of hollow protein nanostructures naturally found in aquatic single-cell organisms, can be used as acoustic actuators to enable the control of cellular forces, movement, and patterning using ultrasound (Chapter 2). In the second case, we show that aquaporins, a class of membrane water channels, can be used to alter cellular permeability and serve as genetic reporters for magnetic resonance imaging (Chapter 3). These tools provide critical capabilities for interfacing with cellular function noninvasively and could open the door to applications in various research, biomedical, and industrial settings.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Synthetic Biology; Ultrasound; Acoustic Radiation Force; Acoustic Actuators; Gas Vesicles; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Aquaporins; Reporter Genes; Genetically Engineered Cells
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Medical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Shapiro, Mikhail G.
Thesis Committee:
  • Tai, Yu-Chong (chair)
  • Phillips, Robert B.
  • Gharib, Morteza
  • Shapiro, Mikhail G.
Defense Date:18 September 2020
Non-Caltech Author Email:di.wu.dw (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05262021-021059637
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for ch. 2 adapted for ch. 3 adapted for ch. 1 adapted for ch. 1
Wu, Di0000-0002-6848-668X
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14174
Deposited By: Di Wu
Deposited On:03 Jun 2021 00:23
Last Modified:26 Oct 2023 20:41

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[img] Video (QuickTime) (Supp. Movie 2) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Video (QuickTime) (Supp. Movie 3) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Video (QuickTime) (Supp. Movie 4) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Video (QuickTime) (Supp. Movie 5) - Supplemental Material
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