Enlightening advances in polymer bioconjugate chemistry: light-based techniques for grafting to and from biomacromolecules
Photochemistry has revolutionized the field of polymer–biomacromolecule conjugation. Ligation reactions necessitate biologically benign conditions, and photons have a significant energy advantage over what is available thermally at ambient temperature, allowing for rapid and unique reactivity. Photochemical reactions also afford many degrees of control, specifically, spatio-temporal control, light source tunability, and increased oxygen tolerance. Light-initiated polymerizations, in particular photo-atom-transfer radical polymerization (photo-ATRP) and photoinduced electron/energy transfer reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer polymerization (PET-RAFT), have been used for grafting from proteins, DNA, and cells. Additionally, the spatio-temporal control inherent to light-mediated chemistry has been utilized for grafting biomolecules to hydrogel networks for many applications, such as 3-D cell culture. While photopolymerization has clear advantages, there are factors that require careful consideration in order to obtain optimal control. These factors include the photocatalyst system, light intensity, and wavelength. This Perspective aims to discuss recent advances of photochemistry for polymer biomacromolecule conjugation and potential considerations while tailoring these systems.