Clustering of catalytic nanocompartments for enhancing an extracellular non-native cascade reaction

Chem Sci. 2021 Aug 31;12(37):12274-12285. doi: 10.1039/d1sc04267j. eCollection 2021 Sep 29.


Compartmentalization is fundamental in nature, where the spatial segregation of biochemical reactions within and between cells ensures optimal conditions for the regulation of cascade reactions. While the distance between compartments or their interaction are essential parameters supporting the efficiency of bio-reactions, so far they have not been exploited to regulate cascade reactions between bioinspired catalytic nanocompartments. Here, we generate individual catalytic nanocompartments (CNCs) by encapsulating within polymersomes or attaching to their surface enzymes involved in a cascade reaction and then, tether the polymersomes together into clusters. By conjugating complementary DNA strands to the polymersomes' surface, DNA hybridization drove the clusterization process of enzyme-loaded polymersomes and controlled the distance between the respective catalytic nanocompartments. Owing to the close proximity of CNCs within clusters and the overall stability of the cluster architecture, the cascade reaction between spatially segregated enzymes was significantly more efficient than when the catalytic nanocompartments were not linked together by DNA duplexes. Additionally, residual DNA single strands that were not engaged in clustering, allowed for an interaction of the clusters with the cell surface as evidenced by A549 cells, where clusters decorating the surface endowed the cells with a non-native enzymatic cascade. The self-organization into clusters of catalytic nanocompartments confining different enzymes of a cascade reaction allows for a distance control of the reaction spaces which opens new avenues for highly efficient applications in domains such as catalysis or nanomedicine.