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Creators/Authors contains: "Cui, Chunxiao"

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  1. Abstract

    Flat, organic microstructures that can self‐fold into 3D microstructures are promising for tissue regeneration, for being capable of distributing living cells in 3D while forming highly complex, biomimetic architectures to assist cells in performing regeneration. However, the design of self‐folding microstructures is difficult due to a lack of understanding of the underlying formation mechanisms. This study helps bridge this gap by deciphering the dynamics of the self‐folding using a mass‐spring model. This numerical study reveals that self‐folding procedure is multi‐modal, which can become random and unpredictable by involving the interplays between internal stresses, external stimulation, imperfection, and self‐hindrance of the folding body. To verify the numerical results, bilayered, hydrogel‐based micropatterns capable of self‐folding are fabricated using inkjet‐printing and tested. The experimental and numerical results are consistent with each other. The above knowledge is applied to designing and fabricating self‐folding microstructures for tissue‐engineering, which successfully creates 3D, cell‐scaled, and biomimetic microstructures, such as microtubes, branched microtubes, and hollow spheres. Embedded in self‐folded microtubes, human mesenchymal stem cells proliferate and form linear cell‐organization mimicking the cell morphology in muscles and tendons. The above knowledge and study platforms can greatly contribute to the research on self‐folding microstructures and applications to tissue regeneration.

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  2. Abstract

    The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex 3D framework of macromolecules, which regulate cell bioactivity via chemical and physical properties. The ECM's physical properties, including stiffness and physical constraints to cell shape, regulate actomyosin cytoskeleton contractions, which induce signaling cascades influencing gene expression and cell fate. Engineering such bioactivity, a.k.a., mechanotransduction, has been mainly achieved by 2D platforms such as micropatterns. These platforms cause cytoskeletal contractions with apico‐basal polarity and can induce mechanotransduction that is unnatural to most cells in native ECMs. An effective method to engineer mechanotransduction in 3D is needed. This work creates FiberGel, a 3D artificial ECM comprised of sub‐cellular scale fibers. These microfibers can crosslink into defined microstructures with the fibers' diameter, stiffness, and alignment independently tuned. Most importantly, cells are blended amongst the fibers prior to crosslinking, leading to homogeneously cellularized scaffolds. Studies using mesenchymal stem cells showed that the microfibers' diameter, stiffness, and alignment regulate 3D cell shape and the nuclei translocation of transcriptional coactivators YAP/TAZ (yes‐associated protein/transcriptional coactivator), which enables the control of cell differentiation and tissue formation. A novel technology based on repeated stretching and folding is created to synthesize FiberGel. This 3D platform can significantly contribute to mechanotransduction research and applications.

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