Light-driven release of cucurbituril from a bivalent cage†
Temporal control over supramolecular systems has great potential for the modulation of binding and assembly events, such as providing orthogonal control over protein activity. Especially light controlled triggering provides unique entries for supramolecular systems to interface in a controlled manner with enzymes. Here we report on the light-induced release of cucurbituril (CB) from a bivalent cage molecule and its subsequent activation of a proteolytic enzyme, caspase-9, that itself is unresponsive to light. Central to the design is the bivalent binding of the cage with high affinity to CB, 100-fold stronger than the UV-inactivated products. The affinity switching occurs in the (sub-)micromolar concentration regime, matching the concentration characteristics required for dimerizing and activating caspase-9 by CB. The light-responsive caged CB concept presented offers a novel platform for tuning and application of switchable cucurbiturils and beyond.