Bioengineering a light-responsive encapsulin nanoreactor: a potential tool for in vitro photodynamic therapy

Dennis Diaz, Xavier Vidal, Anwar Sunna, Andrew Care*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Encapsulins, a prokaryotic class of self-assembling protein nanocompartments, are being re-engineered to serve as "nanoreactors" for the augmentation or creation of key biochemical reactions. However, approaches that allow encapsulin nanoreactors to be functionally activated with spatial and temporal precision are lacking. We report the construction of a light-responsive encapsulin nanoreactor for "on demand" production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Herein, encapsulins were loaded with the fluorescent flavoprotein mini-singlet oxygen generator (miniSOG), a biological photosensitizer that is activated by blue light to generate ROS, primarily singlet oxygen (1O2). We established that the nanocompartments stably encased miniSOG and in response to blue light were able to mediate the photoconversion of molecular oxygen into ROS. Using an in vitro model of lung cancer, we showed that ROS generated by the nanoreactor triggered photosensitized oxidation reactions which exerted a toxic effect on tumor cells, suggesting utility in photodynamic therapy. This encapsulin nanoreactor thus represents a platform for the light-controlled initiation and/or modulation of ROS-driven processes in biomedicine and biotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7977-7986
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2021


  • encapsulin
  • compartmentalization
  • nanoreactor
  • photosensitizer
  • reactive oxygen species
  • photodynamic therapy
  • protein delivery
  • Compartmentalization
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Encapsulin
  • Protein delivery
  • Photosensitizer
  • Nanoreactor


Dive into the research topics of 'Bioengineering a light-responsive encapsulin nanoreactor: a potential tool for in vitro photodynamic therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this