Compartmentalized Intracellular Click Chemistry with Biodegradable Polymersomes

Roy A. J. F. Oerlemans, Jingxin Shao, Sander G. A. M. Huisman, Yudong Li, Loai K. E. A. Abdelmohsen, Jan C. M. van Hest

Published: 2023


Polymersome nanoreactors that can be employed as artificial organelles have gained much interest over the past decades. Such systems often include biological catalysts (i.e., enzymes) so that they can undertake chemical reactions in cellulo. Examples of nanoreactor artificial organelles that acquire metal catalysts in their structure are limited, and their application in living cells remains fairly restricted. In part, this shortfall is due to difficulties associated with constructing systems that maintain their stability in vitro, let alone the toxicity they impose on cells. This study demonstrates a biodegradable and biocompatible polymersome nanoreactor platform, which can be applied as an artificial organelle in living cells. The ability of the artificial organelles to covalently and non-covalently incorporate tris(triazolylmethyl)amine-Cu(I) complexes in their membrane is shown. Such artificial organelles are capable of effectively catalyzing a copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition intracellularly, without compromising the cells’ integrity. The platform represents a step forward in the application of polymersome-based nanoreactors as artificial organelles.

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