Cellular Deformations Induced by Conical Silicon Nanowire Arrays Facilitate Gene Delivery

Yaping Chen, Stella Aslanoglou, Gediminas Gervinskas, Hazem Abdelmaksoud, Nicolas H. Voelcker, Roey Elnathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Engineered cell–nanostructured interfaces generated by vertically aligned silicon nanowire (SiNW) arrays have become a promising platform for orchestrating cell behavior, function, and fate. However, the underlying mechanism in SiNW-mediated intracellular access and delivery is still poorly understood. This study demonstrates the development of a gene delivery platform based on conical SiNW arrays for mechanical cell transfection, assisted by centrifugal force, for both adherent and nonadherent cells in vitro. Cells form focal adhesions on SiNWs within 6 h, and maintain high viability and motility. Such a functional and dynamic cell–SiNW interface features conformational changes in the plasma membrane and in some cases the nucleus, promoting both direct penetration and endocytosis; this synergistically facilitates SiNW-mediated delivery of nucleic acids into immortalized cell lines, and into difficult-to-transfect primary immune T cells without pre-activation. Moreover, transfected cells retrieved from SiNWs retain the capacity to proliferate—crucial to future biomedical applications. The results indicate that SiNW-mediated intracellular delivery holds great promise for developing increasingly sophisticated investigative and therapeutic tools.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1904819
Number of pages14
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • biomaterials
  • cellular deformations
  • gene delivery
  • immune cells
  • silicon nanowires

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