Controlled membrane fusion of proteinosome-based protocells is achieved via a hydrogel-mediated process involving dynamic covalent binding, self-healing, and membrane reconfiguration at the contact interface. The rate of proteinosome fusion is dependent on dynamic Schiff base covalent interchange, and is accelerated in the presence of encapsulated glucose oxidase and glucose, or inhibited with cinnamyl aldehyde due to enzyme-mediated decreases in pH or competitive covalent binding, respectively. The coordinated fusion of the proteinosomes leads to the concomitant transportation and redistribution of entrapped payloads such as DNA and dextran. Silica colloids with amino-functionalized surfaces undergo partial fusion with the proteinosomes via a similar dynamic hydrogel-mediated mechanism. Overall, the strategy provides opportunities for the development of interacting colloidal objects, control of collective behavior in soft matter microcompartmentalized systems, and increased complexity in synthetic protocell communities.
- membrane fusion
- self-healing hydrogels