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Artificial nanopores can perform selective gating of molecules analogous to transmembrane proteins. Here, the authors design a DNA origami pore with a controllable lid for size-selective gating and translocation of macromolecules and evaluate its biosensing properties by single particle assay.
Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO) is a difficult enzyme to work with. Here, the authors covalently immobilized it in a microfluidic reactor to enhance its storage/thermal stabilities and reusability, which enabled the continuous artificial synthesis of glucose precursor.
Bone tissue is a complex organic-inorganic nanocomposite and strategies that replicate the characteristics of bone tissue are scarce. Here the authors demonstrate the deposition of nanoscale apatite in collagen embedded with mesenchymal, vascular and nerve cells, using a protein-guided biomineralization approach.
The ability to mimic aspects of cellular process that rely on reaction-diffusion gradients could provide a step to building life-like systems capable of complex behaviour. Here the authors demonstrate morphological differentiation in coacervate micro-droplets.
Understanding how simple chemical mixtures transition into truly emergent systems is essential to create new lifelike materials. Here, the authors show a self-replicating system that can be maintained out-of-equilibrium by an oxidant fuel in analogy to simple metabolic cycles.
Biomimetic “noses” have been proposed to replace trained animals for chemical detection. Here the authors select 31 mouse olfactory receptors (ORs), based on a large cell-based screen of >800 ORs against seven chemicals, to build an OR-based sensor able to discriminate structurally similar compounds.
Peptoids are promising crystallization agents, as they offer the molecular recognition capabilities of proteins and peptides but with higher stability and synthetic tunability. Here, the authors show that sequence-defined peptoids can controllably template the formation and shape evolution of gold nanostructures with defined morphologies.
There is evidence that disordered proteins play a role in the mineralization process. Here, the authors report on the development of elastin-like recombinant protein membranes using disordered-ordered interplay to investigate and guide mineralization.
Fine controlling chemical reactions over transition metal catalysts in living systems like enzymes remains a challenge. Here, the authors develop a versatile light-controlled bioorthogonal catalyst by modifying macroporous silica-Pd0 with supramolecular complex of azobenzene and β-cyclodextrin.
Ion gating in biological channels is commonly controlled by functional elements. Here, the authors elucidate the contribution of outer-surface functional elements on ion gating of biomimetic nanochannels, providing insight into the design of effective nanochannel-based biosensors and electronics.
DNA nanostructures can cage enzymes but currently fall short of controlling their reactions with substrates. Here, the authors enclose an enzyme inside a dynamic DNA vault, which regulates its access to substrate molecules—and thus its enzymatic activity—through a multi-lock mechanism.
The choline-binding protein ChoX exhibits a synergistic dual-site binding mode that allows it to discriminate choline over structural analogues. Here, the authors design a biomimetic triple anion helicate receptor whose selectivity for choline arises from a similar binding mechanism.
Nanomaterials that form a bioelectronic interface with cells are fascinating tools for controlling cellular behavior. Here, the authors photostimulate single cells with spiky assemblies of semiconducting quinacridone nanocrystals, whose nanoscale needles maximize electronic contact with the cells.
Biomimetic membranes can be used for various applications such as sensors and separations. Here, Chen et al. report the assembly of lipid-like peptoids into stable and self-repairing 2D membrane nanomaterials that change in thickness when under external stimuli.
Suspension-feeding fish, such as goldfish and whale sharks, retain prey without clogging their oral filter. Using a cross-step filtration model based on fish morphology, Sanderson et al. show how vortices generated by this design could trap and transport particles even smaller than the filter pores.
The mechanical properties and hierarchical structure of nacre have been widely investigated as a biomimetic template for applications. Here, the authors demonstrate that nacre-like fibres made from nanoplatelets and polymers show exceptional stretchability and toughness.
Nanoparticles have the potential for enhancing drug delivery; however, low drug encapsulation efficiency and drug loading content limit their application. Here, the authors engineer a complex nanostructure for drug delivery in cancer treatment and evaluate it in different conditions with encouraging results.
Scientists are increasingly realising the potential for natural materials in micro- and nanofabrication. Here, the authors employ silk-based resists for aqueous multiphoton lithography towards generating intricate structures by femtosecond direct writing.
There are many examples in nature of biological materials having developed interesting mechanical properties to enhance their functional performance. Here, Egan et al. review these materials and how they can inspire the design of biomimetic mechanical systems.
Robust biomacromolecules could be used for a wide range of biotechnological applications. Here the authors report a biomimetic mineralization process, in which biomolecules are encapsulated within metal-organic frameworks, and their stability is subsequently increased without significant bioactivity loss.
β-Peptoids are based on N-alkylated β-aminopropionic acid residues, which have been inspired by the more intensely studied peptoids and β-peptides. Here, the authors report X-ray crystal structures of oligomeric β-peptoids demonstrating secondary structures with this backbone.
Electrospinning is a useful method of biomaterial fabrication, but a lack of bioactivity in the final construct can limit their application as mimics for biological matrices. Here, the authors fabricate a degradable electrospun scaffold as an in vitro and in vivomimic of the extracellular matrix.
Many insects supply secretion via small tubes or pores to the end of their legs to be able to attach to a surface. Here, inspired by nature, Xue et al.fabricate adhesive pads with porous nanorod structure for oil delivery, which give rise to a 100-fold increase in adhesivity under humid conditions.
Many layered composites exhibit a remarkable balance of strength, toughness and stiffness. Here, the authors construct a model to explain the synergy of key mechanical properties of layered composites by considering the elastic/plastic properties of the matrix and use 3D-printed samples to validate their predictions.
The hierarchical structural motifs of biomaterials can lead to advantageous mechanical properties. Here, the authors reveal that a fibre-like helical structure across the shell of a planktonic pteropod suppresses crack propagation and is responsible for a high fracture resistance.
Nacre-mimetics hold great promise as high-performance, functional materials. Here, the authors use synthetic nanoclays and demonstrate tuneable mechanical properties by varying the nanoclay aspect ratio, and suggest a transparent gas barrier application.
Bioelectronic devices for cell electrical stimulation and nerve regeneration can be hampered by nonspecific binding of proteins and cells. Here, the authors present a membrane biomimetic conducting polymer that is cell selective, and thus may be useful in neural tissue engineering.
Gramicidin A pores are important natural structures for the transport of ions through biological membranes. Here, the authors show that this functionality can be mimicked using an artificial transmembrane channel formed of synthetic pore-forming compounds.
Porous particles can be capable of selectivity encapsulating various guests. Here, the authors report a strategy to make block copolymer microparticles with pH-responsive pores, study and rationalize their assembly process and furthermore demonstrate separation of differently charged proteins.
Enzymatic mimics, capable of catalysing cascading reactions under physiological conditions, can be formed from integrating multiple components. Here, the authors report a graphene–haemin–glucose oxidase system capable of biomimetic generation of antithrombotic species from abundant glucose and L-arginine.
Cryopreservation is the method of choice for extending the lifespan of biological samples, although high concentrations of potentially toxic additives are required. Here, the authors show that polymers that mimic antifreeze proteins can enhance cell cryopreservation at only 0.1 wt% concentration.
Colour changes in response to external stimuli are common in nature, from turkey skin to butterfly wings. Here, inspired by this behaviour, the authors have developed a sensor capable of providing an individual colour response to specific target chemicals using genetically engineered viruses.
The topographical features of insect wings result in some interesting surface properties, including hydrophobicity and antibacterial activity. Here the authors identify the surface of black silicon as a mimic of dragonfly wings and show that it too possesses antibacterial activity.
Biomineralization processes have inspired the design of synthetic silica structures in vitro. Here, the authors use a living diatom to fabricate organo-silica constructs and are able to incorporate thiol moieties into the diatom frustule without the loss of nano-scale architectural features.
The complex shapes of biological tissues are often formed as a result of stress modulations. Wu et al.exploit such behaviour experimentally and theoretically to demonstrate a new mechanism of the formation of three-dimensional structures that is driven by engineered small-scale stresses within patterned hydrogel sheets.
The exploitation of the properties of graphene, such as mechanical strength and electrical conductivity, in deformable macroscopic materials is desirable. Here, a combination of graphene chemistry and ice physics is used to fabricate biomimetic, ultralight and superelastic graphene cellular monoliths.
There is growing interest in the development of artificial molecular-transport systems. Miyakoet al. develop a supramolecular system consisting of carbon nanotubes and liposomes that allows the directional transport and controlled release of cargo molecules.
Nacre is an organic–inorganic composite biomaterial, which consists of an ordered multilayer structure of crystalline calcium carbonate platelets separated by porous organic layers. Finnemoreet al. present a route to artificial nacre which mimics the natural layer-by-layer biosynthesis.
Spider silk adhesion is reliant on sticky droplets composed of glycoproteins surrounded by an aqueous coat. Sahni and co-workers show that these droplets behave as viscoelastic solids that enable large, rate-dependent adhesive forces capable of trapping fast- and slow-moving prey.