Engineered Ca2+ responsive protein enables cell detachment

Wong, Janice 1 ; Mosabbir, Abdullah 1 ; Truong, Kevin 1, 2

1. Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto; 2. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto

Genetically reprogramming cells to recognise specific markers of disease has many therapeutic benefits over conventional treatments such as antibodies, chemotherapeutics and drugs which are systemically distributed and have many off-target effects. One challenge of engineering cells for directed migration is their naturally high adherence to surfaces. To address this, we show a stable HEK293 cell line expressing a calcium (Ca2+) responsive engineered protein, Raber, which is capable of enabling cell detachment. In response to Ca2+ signals, Raber promotes focal adhesion disassembly and cell detachment. To show versatility of Raber, we show activation by physical and chemical stimuli. Raber was co-expressed with channelrhodopsin 2 (ChR2) to enable cell detachment via light stimulation. Next, Raber was co-expressed with VEGFR2 to demonstrate cell detachment via VEGF-A administration.