Shape-shifting of vesicles induced by artificial tubular networks (SHINEShift)
Starting from the smallest unit of life, the cell, living systems are in constant motion. Cells migrate, divide and differentiate, supported by sophisticated supramolecular machinery, cellular cytoskeleton. In contrast, most artificial supramolecular systems are static. Vesicles are static structures consisting of a lipid bilayer surrounding a fluid. Yet, they are used as the most common artificial models of cell membranes, which are on the contrary dynamic, fluid structures. The SHINEShift project sought to transform vesicles into dynamic structures capable of resisting mechanical stress by employing a photo-responsive synthetic supramolecular tubules as an artificial cytoskeleton inside vesicles. In line with the overall aim, the objectives of the project were to: (i) design and synthesize organic molecules based on cyclic peptides bearing photo-responsive groups, (ii) characterize these molecules and investigate their ability to form tubular structures in a solution, (iii) encapsulate these compounds inside vesicles and (iv) observe their behavior under the influence of light.
SHINEShift project went beyond the state of the art in several ways. It pushed the frontiers in organic synthesis of complex cyclic peptides bearing oligo(ethylene glycol) units whose preparation and purification is not a trivial task. Furthermore, it gave insight into the possibilities of self-assembly of these structures and encapsulation of supramolecular polymers in confined micro-scale compartments – vesicles. This will have a profound effect and open new avenues in the fields of biomimetic systems, materials science and supramolecular chemistry.