Cell detection by surface imprinted polymers SIPs: A study to unravel the recognition mechanisms

Derick Yongabi*, Mehran Khorshid, Patricia Losada-Perez, Kasper Eersels, Olivier Deschaume, Jan D'Haen, Carmen Bartic, Jef Hooyberghs, Ronald Thoelen, Michael Wubbenhorst, Patrick Wagner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Previous studies have shown that selective synthetic cell receptors can be produced by cell imprinting on polymer layers. However, knowledge on the fundamental detection mechanisms remains limited. In this article, while using yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as model cells, the factors influencing cellular recognition by surface-imprinted polymers (SIPs) are studied by means of spectroscopic and microscopy techniques and a transducer platform based on interfacial thermal transport, the so-called heat-transfer method (HTM). These analyses indicate that cell imprinting creates selective binding sites on the surface of the SIP layer in the form of binding cavities that match the cells in shape and size. Also, we show that phospholipid moieties are incorporated into the SIP cavities during imprinting, while membrane proteins do not seem to be transferred. More importantly, we demonstrate that the incorporated phospholipids significantly enhance cell adhesion to the SIP, and thus play a significant role in the cell-SIP binding mechanism. Furthermore, the hydrophobicity of the SIP layer was found to be considerably higher when compared with a non-imprinted polymer layer (NIP), an effect that could not be attributed to the presence of cavities on the surface of the SIP layer. Therefore, we suggest that the role of phospholipids in the SIP recognition mechanism is mediated by long range hydrophobic forces. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-917
Number of pages11
JournalSensors and Actuators B-Chemical
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Cell detection
  • Surface-imprinted polymers
  • Cell adhesion
  • Phospholipids
  • Membrane proteins
  • Biomimetic sensors
  • FTIR


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