Tile-based self-assembly of a triple-helical polysaccharide into cell wall-like mesoporous nanocapsules
Tile-based self-assembly is a robust system in the construction of three-dimensional DNA nanostructures but it has been rarely applied to other helical biopolymers. β-Glucan is an immunoactive natural polymer which exists in a triple helical conformation. Herein, we report that β-glucan, after modification using two types of short chain acyl groups, can self-assemble into tiles with inactivated sticky ends at the interface of two solvents. These tiles consist of a single layer of helices laterally aligned, and the sticky ends can be activated when a few acyl groups at the ends are removed; these tiles can further pack into mesoporous nanocapsules, in a similar process as the sticky DNA tiles pack into complex polyhedral nano-objects. These nanocapsules were found to have targeted effects to antigen presenting cells in a RAW264.7 cell model. Our study suggests that tile-based self-assembly can be a general strategy for helical biopolymers, and on fully exploiting this strategy, various new functional nanostructures will become accessible in the future.