Microliter Scale Synthesis of Luciferase-Encapsulated Polymersomes as Artificial Organelles for Optogenetic Modulation of Cardiomyocyte Beating.
Kim H., Yeow J., Najer A., Kit-Anan W., Wang R., Rifaie-Graham O., Thanapongpibul C., Stevens MM.
Constructing artificial systems that effectively replace or supplement natural biological machinery within cells is one of the fundamental challenges underpinning bioengineering. At the sub-cellular scale, artificial organelles (AOs) have significant potential as long-acting biomedical implants, mimicking native organelles by conducting intracellularly compartmentalized enzymatic actions. The potency of these AOs can be heightened when judiciously combined with genetic engineering, producing highly tailorable biohybrid cellular systems. Here, the authors present a cost-effective, microliter scale (10 µL) polymersome (PSome) synthesis based on polymerization-induced self-assembly for the in situ encapsulation of Gaussia luciferase (GLuc), as a model luminescent enzyme. These GLuc-loaded PSomes present ideal features of AOs including enhanced enzymatic resistance to thermal, proteolytic, and intracellular stresses. To demonstrate their biomodulation potential, the intracellular luminescence of GLuc-loaded PSomes is coupled to optogenetically engineered cardiomyocytes, allowing modulation of cardiac beating frequency through treatment with coelenterazine (CTZ) as the substrate for GLuc. The long-term intracellular stability of the luminescent AOs allows this cardiostimulatory phenomenon to be reinitiated with fresh CTZ even after 7 days in culture. This synergistic combination of organelle-mimicking synthetic materials with genetic engineering is therefore envisioned as a highly universal strategy for the generation of new biohybrid cellular systems displaying unique triggerable properties.