Jun 30, 2010
Enzyme triggers formation of nanostructures
Recently, scientists at Nankai University, China, have used an enzymatic reaction to prepare a small molecular hydrogel with an ultra-low minimum gelation concentration of 0.01 wt%. Lowering the amount of compounds needed for gelation could enhance the biocompatibility of the resulting hydrogel.
The group is studying enzyme-triggered formation of nanostructures based on hydrophobic small molecules. The aim of using hydrophobic small molecules to form nanostructures is to generate biomaterials with good stability in aqueous solutions for drug delivery and tissue engineering. As shown in the images above, a water soluble phosphorated tetrapeptide derivative (1) can be converted into a smaller, more hydrophobic molecule (2). Both of the small molecules are then co-assembled into leaf-like structures, which form a small molecular hydrogel.
Similar to the recent result reported in Nanotechnology from the same group, the gel couldn't form without the assistance of phosphatase. Both results indicate that enzyme plays a central role in the formation of such kinds of stable nanostructures in aqueous solutions.
The strategy of using enzyme to produce hydrophobic small molecules provides a simple but powerful tool to cast water-dispersed nanostructures for biosensing, drug delivery, tissue engineering and other applications.
More information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.
About the author
Zhimou Yang's group at the Key Laboratory of Bioactive Materials, Ministry of Education, Nankai University, P R China, focuses on self-assembled systems involving short peptide derivatives and enzymes. The team is currently exploring the potential applications of self-assembled nanospheres and small molecular hydrogels in the fields of controlled drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.