Synthetic Life-like Systems

Chemistry of Self-Assembly in Living Systems

Self-organization in Nature is a fascinating phenomenon where molecules form transient supramolecular or dynamic bonds on demand.
In this area, we focus on designing molecules that self-assembles directly within a living environment i.e. in a cell or with viruses. This involves the understanding of the biological environment and developing suitable chemical platforms to control, both time and location, of the assembly process.
By creating synthetic architectures within the living cell, we hope to derive nanostructures that would empower biological functions in life.
Pieszka, M.; Han, S.; Volkmann, C.; Graf, R.; Lieberwirth, I.; Landfester, K.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: Controlled Supramolecular Assembly Inside Living Cells by Sequential Multistaged Chemical Reactions. Journal of the American Chemical Society 142 (37), pp. 15780 - 15789 (2020)
Chen, C.; Singh, M. K.; Wunderlich, K.; Harvey, S.; Whitfield, C.; Zhou, Z.; Wagner, M.; Landfester, K.; Lieberwirth, I.; Fytas, G. et al.; Kremer, K.; Mukherji, D.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: Polymer cyclization for the emergence of hierarchical nanostructures. Nature Communications 12, 3959 (2021)
Zhou, Z.; Maxeiner, K.; Moscariello, P.; Xiang, S.; Wu, Y.; Ren, Y.; Whitfield, C.; Xu, L.; Kaltbeitzel, A.; Han, S. et al.; Mücke, D.; Qi, H.; Wagner, M.; Kaiser, U.; Landfester, K.; Lieberwirth, I.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: In Situ Assembly of Platinum(II)-Metallopeptide Nanostructures Disrupts Energy Homeostasis and Cellular Metabolism. Journal of the American Chemical Society 144 (27), pp. 12219 - 12228 (2022)

High Resolution Polymeric Architectures Templated by Proteins/DNA

The core focus of this topic uses the architectural perfection of proteins and DNA to provide a framework for polymer chemistry. Nanoscale structures such as DNA origamis and denatured proteins offer a monodisperse template with absolute geometry and chemistry.
By programming this exact placement of functional groups on the macromolecular scaffold, polymerization reactions can be spatially controlled to map a designated architecture. These structures seek to elucidate the effect of unnatural shapes in biomedicine and materials science.
Lückerath, T.; Koynov, K.; Loescher, S.; Whitfield, C. J.; Nuhn, L.; Walther, A.; Barner-Kowollik, C.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: DNA-Polymer Nanostructures by RAFT Polymerization and Polymerization‐Induced Self-Assembly. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 59 (36), pp. 15474 - 15479 (2020)
Chen, C.; Wunderlich, K.; Mukherji, D.; Koynov, K.; Heck, A.; Raabe, M.; Barz, M.; Fytas, G.; Kremer, K.; Ng, D. Y. W. et al.; Weil, T.: Precision Anisotropic Brush Polymers by Sequence Controlled Chemistry. Journal of the American Chemical Society 142 (3), pp. 1332 - 1340 (2020)
Winterwerber, P.; Whitfield, C.; Ng, D. Y. W.; Weil, T.: Multiple Wavelength Photopolymerization of Stable Poly(Catecholamines)-DNA Origami Nanostructures. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 61 (8), e202111226 (2022)
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