Research ArticleBIOCHEMISTRY

Off-on switching of enzyme activity by near-infrared light-induced photothermal phase transition of nanohybrids

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Science Advances  21 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaaw4252
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw4252


The off-on manipulation of enzyme activity is a challenging task. We report a new strategy for reversible off-on control of enzyme activity by near-infrared light. Enzymes acting on macromolecular substrates are embedded with an ultrasmall platinum nanoparticle and decorated with thermoresponsive copolymers, which exhibit upper critical solution temperature (UCST) behavior. The polymer-enzyme nanohybrids form microscale aggregates in solution below the UCST to prevent macromolecular substrates from approaching the enzymes and thus inhibit the enzyme activity, and they disassemble above the UCST to reactivate the enzyme. Upon near-infrared irradiation, platinum nanoparticles inside the enzymes generate heat through a photothermal effect to cause phase transition of the copolymers. Therefore, we can reversibly switch off and on the activities of three enzymes acting on polysaccharide, protein, and plasmid. The enzyme activities are increased by up to 61-fold after laser irradiation. This study provides a facile and efficient method for off-on control of enzyme activity.

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