Gene regulation enabled by ferro-microgels
Full and hollow magneto-responsive ferro-microgels containing magnetic nanoparticles and aptamer-signal molecule complexes will be designed to control gene expression of bacteria on demand. A small signal molecule will be released from the aptamer-functionalized ferro-microgels via external magnetic fields to generate heat or force. The microgels will be designed to protect the aptamers from nucleases and retain the magnetic particles, while enabling an immediate release of the small molecule. Cells will be shielded from local hot spots, created by alternating magnetic fields. After release, the small molecule can enter cells and trigger a ribo-switch to induce translation. Therefore, the ferro-microgels will have the ability to remotely switch on genes to enable protein production and affect cellular behavior.