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Self-powered enzyme micropumps

Abstract

Non-mechanical nano- and microscale pumps that function without the aid of an external power source and provide precise control over the flow rate in response to specific signals are needed for the development of new autonomous nano- and microscale systems. Here we show that surface-immobilized enzymes that are independent of adenosine triphosphate function as self-powered micropumps in the presence of their respective substrates. In the four cases studied (catalase, lipase, urease and glucose oxidase), the flow is driven by a gradient in fluid density generated by the enzymatic reaction. The pumping velocity increases with increasing substrate concentration and reaction rate. These rechargeable pumps can be triggered by the presence of specific analytes, which enables the design of enzyme-based devices that act both as sensor and pump. Finally, we show proof-of-concept enzyme-powered devices that autonomously deliver small molecules and proteins in response to specific chemical stimuli, including the release of insulin in response to glucose.

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Figure 1: Schematic that shows the enzyme pattern on a surface and triggered fluid pumping by enzymatic micropumps.
Figure 2: Fluid pumping velocity in an enzyme-powered micropump as a function of substrate concentration and reaction rate.
Figure 3: Temporal and spatial changes in fluid-pumping velocity for catalase-powered micropumps.
Figure 4: Fluid pumping in enzyme micropumps generated by density-driven flows.
Figure 5: Urease-powered stimuli-responsive autonomous release of dye.
Figure 6: GOx-powered stimuli-responsive release of insulin.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge financial support by the Penn State Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers under National Sciences Foundation (NSF) grant DMR-0820404 and, in part, by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (HDTRA1-13-1-0039). This publication was supported by the Pennsylvania State University Materials Research Institute Nanofabrication Lab and the SNF Cooperative Agreement No. ECS-0335765. This publication is also based on work supported by Award No. RUP1-7078-PE-12 of the US Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF Global) and by the NSF under Cooperative Agreement No. OISE-9531011 (joint grant with the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences). I.O-R. acknowledges a NSF Fellowship (DGE-1255832).

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Contributions

S.S., D.P., T.E.M. and A.S. designed the research. S.S., D.P., I.O-R. and A.A. performed the research. S.S., D.P. and I.O-R. contributed new reagents and analytical tools. S.S., I.O-R., K.K.D., S.Sh., U.C-F., T.E.M. and A.S. analysed the data. S.S., D.P., I.O-R and A.S. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Thomas E. Mallouk or Ayusman Sen.

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Sengupta, S., Patra, D., Ortiz-Rivera, I. et al. Self-powered enzyme micropumps. Nature Chem 6, 415–422 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1895

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