Scientists Develop Method to Control Enzymes Activities with a Remote Control

Researchers at ITMO University have developed a new method to enhance the activity of enzymes by using radio frequency radiation. The method requires making a special complex consisting of enzymes and magnetic nano-particles. The particles can adsorb radio emission and convert it to heat, resulting in enzymatic processes acceleration by more than four times. At the same time, the particles-covered enzyme becomes more resistant to high temperatures. Such method can be used to create radio-controlled biochemical systems, as well as to adjust metabolism in living organisms. The results were published in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

Enzymes are involved in a variety of reactions in living organisms, and their effectiveness depends on a variety of conditions. Although usually the enzyme activity is controlled chemically, researchers from ITMO University showed that this can be done remotely using physical methods such as radio frequency field.

To make radio-controlled enzymes, the scientists synthesized a special complex in which an enzyme is enclosed in a rigid porous framework of magnetite nano-particles. Whenever the radio field is applied, the nano-particles adsorb radio emission and heat up, passing additional energy to the enzyme and resulting in the enzymatic reaction rate acceleration. An experiment conducted on a model enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, demonstrated that the reaction rate can be increased by more than four times.

According to Andrey Drozdov, member of ITMO University’s SCAMT Laboratory, while there have been very few studies out there until now that explore enzyme manipulation through the radio waves, they were the first who managed to increase the activity of a non-thermostable enzyme. Typically, these enzymes change the conformation at high temperatures and then stop working. But placed within the rigid framework of nano-particles, the enzyme is stabilized from structure rearrangements as the nano-particles mechanically restrict the enzyme mobility.

According to Yulia Andreeva, the first author of the study, since the topic has a lot of potential, further work will focus on using the technique with other enzymes, as well as in living cells. For example, it is still unclear whether it is possible with this method to make bacteria or cells divide more often or, on the contrary, to stop their division.

There are two key parameters among the advantages of the radio emission used in the work. On the one hand, such radio waves can easily go through the tissues, and on the other, they are absolutely harmless to the body. Thus, by using the radio frequency field, you can control the activity of enzymes in the body and adjust cell metabolism. In the near future, scientists plan to try out this method on other enzymes in an attempt to influence the vital activity of bacteria or cells.