Squid Skin Cell-Inspired Refractive Index Mapping of Cells, Vesicles, and Nanostructures
Chatterjee, A., Pratakshya, P., Kwansa, A. L., Kaimal, N., Cannon, A. H., Sartori, B., … Gorodetsky, A. A. (2023, January 24). ACS BIOMATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING.
The fascination with the optical properties of naturally occurring systems has been driven in part by nature's ability to produce a diverse palette of vibrant colors from a relatively small number of common structural motifs. Within this context, some cephalopod species have evolved skin cells called iridophores and leucophores whose constituent ultrastructures reflect light in different ways but are composed of the same high refractive index material─a protein called reflectin. Although such natural optical systems have attracted much research interest, measuring the refractive indices of biomaterial-based structures across multiple different environments and establishing theoretical frameworks for accurately describing the obtained refractive index values has proven challenging. Herein, we employ a synergistic combination of experimental and computational methodologies to systematically map the three-dimensional refractive index distributions of model self-assembled reflectin-based structures both in vivo and in vitro. When considered together, our findings may improve understanding of squid skin cell functionality, augment existing methods for characterizing protein-based optical materials, and expand the utility of emerging holotomographic microscopy techniques.