Light-Driven Proton Transfer for Cyclic and Temporal Switching of Enzymatic Nanoreactors

Silvia Moreno, Priyanka Sharan, Johanna Engelke, Hannes Gumz, Susanne Boye, Ulrich Oertel, Peng Wang, Susanta Banerjee, Rafal Klajn, Brigitte Voit, Albena Lederer, Dietmar Appelhans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Temporal activation of biological processes by visible light and subsequent return to an inactive state in the absence of light is an essential characteristic of photoreceptor cells. Inspired by these phenomena, light-responsive materials are very attractive due to the high spatiotemporal control of light irradiation, with light being able to precisely orchestrate processes repeatedly over many cycles. Herein, it is reported that light-driven proton transfer triggered by a merocyanine-based photoacid can be used to modulate the permeability of pH-responsive polymersomes through cyclic, temporally controlled protonation and deprotonation of the polymersome membrane. The membranes can undergo repeated light-driven swelling–contraction cycles without losing functional effectiveness. When applied to enzyme loaded-nanoreactors, this membrane responsiveness is used for the reversible control of enzymatic reactions. This combination of the merocyanine-based photoacid and pH-switchable nanoreactors results in rapidly responding and versatile supramolecular systems successfully used to switch enzymatic reactions ON and OFF on demand.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2002135
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2020


  • ON–OFF systems
  • light-driven proton transfer
  • out-of-equilibrium systems
  • photoacids
  • polymersomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)

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