Incorporating bacteria as a living component in supramolecular self-assembled monolayers through dynamic nanoscale interactions

S. Sankaran, Mustafa Can Kiren, Pascal Jonkheijm

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Supramolecular assemblies, formed through noncovalent interactions, has become particularly attractive to develop dynamic and responsive architectures to address living systems at the nanoscale. Cucurbit[8]uril (CB[8]), a pumpkin shaped macrocylic host molecule, has been successfully used to construct various self-assembled architectures for biomedical applications since it can simultaneously bind two aromatic guest molecules within its cavity. Such architectures can also be designed to respond to external stimuli. Integrating living organisms as an active component into such supramolecular architectures would add a new dimension to the capabilities of such systems. To achieve this, we have incorporated supramolecular functionality at the bacterial surface by genetically modifying a transmembrane protein to display a CB[8]-binding motif as part of a cystine-stabilized miniprotein. We were able to confirm that this supramolecular motif on the bacterial surface specifically binds CB[8] and forms multiple intercellular ternary complexes leading to aggregation of the bacterial solution. We performed various aggregation experiments to understand how CB[8] interacts with this bacterial strain and also demonstrate that it can be chemically reversed using a competitor. To confirm that this strain can be incorporated with a CB[8] based architecture, we show that the bacterial cells were able to adhere to CB[8] self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on gold and still retain considerable motility for several hours, indicating that the system can potentially be used to develop supramolecular bacterial biomotors. The bacterial strain also has the potential to be combined with other CB[8] based architectures like nanoparticles, vesicles and hydrogels.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)3579-3586
Number of pages8
JournalACS nano
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • IR-99893
  • METIS-314659

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