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Herding Nanotransporters:  Localized Activation via Release and Sequestration of Control Molecules

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journal contribution
posted on 03.04.2020, 18:07 by Robert Tucker, Parag Katira, Henry Hess
A challenge for nanotechnology is the dynamic and specific control of nanomachines by the user. Molecular shuttles, consisting of cargo-binding microtubules propelled by surface-immobilized kinesin motor proteins, are an example of a nanoscale system that ideally can be selectively activated at programmable locations and times. Here we discuss a biomimetic solution where activating molecules are delivered locally via photolysis of a caged compound and subsequently sequestered in an enzymatic network. The controlled sequestration of the activator not only creates a rapid deactivation when the stimulus is removed but also sharpens the concentration profile of the rapidly diffusing activator. This improvement comes at the expense of a reduced efficiency in the utilization of the activator molecules, suggesting that these nanosystems are most efficiently addressed as a swarm rather than as individuals. Our work represents a step toward transferring the cellular control strategies of molecular activation to bionanotechnology.