Synthetic two-way communication between mammalian cells

The design of synthetic biology-inspired control devices enabling entire mammalian cells to receive, process and transfer metabolic information and so communicate with each other via synthetic multichannel networks may provide new insight into the organization of multicellular organisms and future clinical interventions. Here we describe communication networks that orchestrate behavior in individual mammalian cells in response to cell-to-cell metabolic signals. We engineered sender, processor and receiver cells that interact with each other in ways that resemble natural intercellular communication networks such as multistep information processing cascades, feed-forward-based signaling loops, and two-way communication. The engineered two-way communication devices mimicking natural control systems in the development of vertebrate extremities and vasculature was used to program temporal permeability in vascular endothelial cell layers. These synthetic multicellular communication systems may inspire future therapies or tissue engineering strategies. © 2012 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.