Photochemical Patterning of Cellular Microenvironments
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Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. All right reserved. Advances in photochemistry have profoundly impacted biological research by enabling researchers to both observe and direct cellular signaling processes. Recently, a number of innovations have been made toward the goal of using light-mediated reactions to manipulate the chemical and physical nature of hydrogelbased cellular microenvironments with spatiotemporal control. For example, using photoaddition and photocleavage reactions it is possible to both add and remove biochemical cues from cellular microenvironments. Matrix stiffness can also be dynamically modulated by using light to induce secondary cross-links, thereby stiffening the microenvironment, or by using photocleavage reactions to reduce the cross-link density and decrease the microenvironmental stiffness. Collectively, these approaches provide researchers with a diverse toolkit for probing the effects of matrix-derived signals, guiding cellular organization, and infl uencing cell-fate decisions. In this chapter, a summary of the state of the art in the fi eld, a description of the photochemical reactions that are available, and a discussion of some practical considerations for patterning cellular microenvironments are provided. Challenges facing the fi eld are also highlighted in a prospectus for future work.