A Programmable Multifunctional 3D Cancer Cell Invasion Micro Platform

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In the research of cancer cell invasion and metastasis, recreation of physiologically relevant and faithful three-dimensional (3D) tumor models that recapitulate spatial architecture, spatiotemporal control of cell communication and signaling pathways, and integration of extracellular cues remains an open challenge. Here, a programmable multifunctional 3D cancer cell invasion microbuckets-hydrogel (Mb-H) platform is developed by integrating various function-variable microbuckets and extracellular matrix (ECM)-like hydrogels. Based on this Mb-H micro platform, the aggregation of multi-cancer cells is well controlled to form cancer cell spheroids, and the guiding relationship of single-cell migration and collective cell migration during the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cancer cell invasion are demonstrated. By programming and precisely assembling multiple functions in one system, the Mb-H platform with spatial-temporal controlled release of cytokine transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and various functionalized Mb-H platforms with intelligent adjustment of cell-matrix interactions are engineered to coordinate the 3D invasive migration of cancer cell spheroids. This programmable and adaptable 3D cancer cell invasion micro platform takes a new step toward mimicking the dynamically changing (localized) tumor microenvironment and exhibits wide potential applications in cancer research, bio-fabrication, cell signaling, and drug screening.