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August 17th, 2007
Nanoreactors for reaction cascades
Living cells are highly complex synthetic machines: Numerous multistep reactions run simultaneously side by side and with unbelievable efficiency and specificity. For these mainly enzymatic reactions to work so well collectively, nature makes use of a variety of concepts. One of the most important of these is division into compartments. Enzymes are not only separated spatially, but also positioned in specific locations within the cell.
Researchers from the Netherlands, led by Jan C. M. van Hest and Alan E. Rowan, have now developed an approach to copy this idea, as they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie ( Positional Assembly of Enzymes in Polymersome Nanoreactors for Cascade Reactions). They constructed nanoreactors by controlled positioning of two different enzymes in the central water reservoir or the plastic membrane of synthetic nanoscopic bubbles. In combination with a third enzyme in the surrounding solution, this system has made it possible to run three different enzymatic reactions simultaneously, without interference, in a "one-pot" reaction.
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