R Polak, T Crouzier, RM Lim, K Ribbeck, MM Beppu, RNM Pitombo, RE Cohen, MF Rubne
Biomacromolecules 15 (8), 3093-3098
Publication year: 2014

The layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly of thin films on surfaces has proven to be an extremely useful technology for uses ranging from optics to biomedical applications. Releasing these films from the substrate to generate so-called free-standing multilayer films opens a new set of applications. Current approaches to generating such materials are limited because they can be cytotoxic, difficult to scale up, or have undesirable side reactions on the material. In this work, a new sacrificial thin film system capable of chemically triggered dissolution at physiological pH of 7.4 is described. The film was created through LbL assembly of bovine submaxillary mucin (BSM) and the lectin jacalin (JAC) for a (BSM/JAC) multilayer system, which remains stable over a wide pH range (pH 3–9) and at high ionic strength (up to 5 M NaCl). This stability allows for subsequent LbL assembly of additional films in a variety of conditions, which could be released from the substrate by incubation in the presence of a competitive inhibitor sugar, melibiose, which selectively disassembles the (BSM/JAC) section of the film. This novel multilayer system was then applied to generate free-standing, 7 μm diameter, circular ultrathin films, which can be attached to a cell surface as a “backpack”. A critical thickness of about 100 nm for the (BSM/JAC) film was required to release the backpacks from the glass substrate, after incubation in melibiose solution at 37 °C for 1 h. Upon their release, backpacks were subsequently attached to murine monocytes without cytotoxicity, thereby demonstrating the compatibility of this mucin-based release system with living cells.