Controlling enzymatic activity and kinetics in swollen mesophases by physical nano-confinement†
Bicontinuous lipid cubic mesophases are widely investigated as hosting matrices for functional enzymes to build biosensors and bio-devices due to their unique structural characteristics. However, the enzymatic activity within standard mesophases (in-meso) is severely hindered by the relatively small diameter of the mesophase aqueous channels, which provide only limited space for enzymes, and restrict them into a highly confined environment. We show that the enzymatic activity of a model enzyme, horseradish peroxidase (HRP), can be accurately controlled by relaxing its confinement within the cubic phases' water channels, when the aqueous channel diameters are systematically swollen with varying amount of hydration-enhancing sugar ester. The in-meso activity and kinetics of HRP are then systematically investigated by UV-vis spectroscopy, as a function of the size of the aqueous mesophase channels. The enzymatic activity of HRP increases with the swelling of the water channels. In swollen mesophases with water channel diameter larger than the HRP size, the enzymatic activity is more than double that measured in standard mesophases, approaching again the enzymatic activity of free HRP in bulk water. We also show that the physically-entrapped enzymes in the mesophases exhibit a restricted-diffusion-induced initial lag period and report the first observation of in-meso enzymatic kinetics significantly deviating from the normal Michaelis–Menten behaviour observed in free solutions, with deviations vanishing when enzyme confinement is released by swelling the mesophase.