We have successfully adapted a consumer-grade inkjet printer for use as a means of controlling spatio-temporal gene expression in 2D cell culture. Specifically, we take advantage of a high-resolution printer designed to print on the surface of CDs. By modifying CD surfaces to contain customized Petri dish wells, we are able to culture E. coli in the wells and print various morphogens onto the surface of the culture. By varying the geometry of printed patterns of lactose and glucose we have demonstrated spatiotemporal control over the genetic activity of the lac operon. Having successfully demonstrated the technology, we are now examining the wide array of interesting dynamic effects we encountered such as propagating mRNA waves and counter-diffusion boundary control. We are also examining the possibility of adapting this system for use with mammalian cells. Current mammalian culture systems cannot produce 2D gradients within the culture material, meaning that an inkjet system capable of doing this would open up a number of interesting research areas.
Project end date: 02/03/10