Formation of Well-Defined, Functional Nanotubes via Osmotically Induced Shape Transformation of Biodegradable Polymersomes

J Am Chem Soc. 2016 Aug 3;138(30):9353-6. doi: 10.1021/jacs.6b03984. Epub 2016 Jul 21.


Polymersomes are robust, versatile nanostructures that can be tailored by varying the chemical structure of copolymeric building blocks, giving control over their size, shape, surface chemistry, and membrane permeability. In particular, the generation of nonspherical nanostructures has attracted much attention recently, as it has been demonstrated that shape affects function in a biomedical context. Until now, nonspherical polymersomes have only been constructed from nondegradable building blocks, hampering a detailed investigation of shape effects in nanomedicine for this category of nanostructures. Herein, we demonstrate the spontaneous elongation of spherical polymersomes comprising the biodegradable copolymer poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(d,l-lactide) into well-defined nanotubes. The size of these tubes is osmotically controlled using dialysis, which makes them very easy to prepare. To confirm their utility for biomedical applications, we have demonstrated that, alongside drug loading, functional proteins can be tethered to the surface utilizing bio-orthogonal "click" chemistry. In this way the present findings establish a novel platform for the creation of biocompatible, high-aspect ratio nanoparticles for biomedical research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / chemistry
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanotubes / chemistry*
  • Osmosis
  • Polyesters / chemistry*
  • Polyesters / metabolism
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation


  • Polyesters
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • poly(ethyleneglycol-lactide)