Single-cell nanoencapsulation, forming cell-in-shell structures, provides chemical tools for endowing living cells, in a programmed fashion, with exogenous properties that are neither innate nor naturally achievable, such as cascade organic-catalysis, UV filtration, immunogenic shielding, and enhanced tolerance in vitro against lethal factors in real-life settings. Recent advances in the field make it possible to further fine-tune the physicochemical properties of the artificial shells encasing individual living cells, including on-demand degradability and reconfigurability. Many different materials, other than polyelectrolytes, have been utilized as a cell-coating material with proper choice of synthetic strategies to broaden the potential applications of cell-in-shell structures to whole-cell catalysis and sensors, cell therapy, tissue engineering, probiotics packaging, and others. In addition to the conventional “one-time-only” chemical formation of cytoprotective, durable shells, an approach of autonomous, dynamic shellation has also recently been attempted to mimic the naturally occurring sporulation process and to make the artificial shell actively responsive and dynamic. Here, the recent development of synthetic strategies for formation of cell-in-shell structures along with the advanced shell properties acquired is reviewed. Demonstrated applications, such as whole-cell biocatalysis and cell therapy, are discussed, followed by perspectives on the field of single-cell nanoencapsulation.
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- artificial spores
- cell nanoencapsulation
- cell-surface engineering
- interfacial self-assembly