Optically Controlled Construction of Three-Dimensional Protein Arrays

Qing Liu, Yu Zhou, Ahmed Shaukat, Zhuojun Meng, Daniella Kyllönen, Iris Seitz, Daniel Langerreiter, Kim Kuntze, Arri Priimagi, Lifei Zheng*, Mauri A. Kostiainen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Protein crystallization is an important tool for structural biology and nanostructure preparation. Here, we report on kinetic pathway-dependent protein crystals that are controlled by light. Photo-responsive crystallites are obtained by complexing the model proteins with cationic azobenzene dyes. The crystalline state is readily switched to a dispersed phase under ultraviolet light and restored by subsequent visible-light illumination. The switching can be reversibly repeated for multiple cycles without noticeable structure deterioration. Importantly, the photo-treatment not only significantly increases the crystallinity, but creates crystallites at conditions where no ordered lattices are observed upon directly mixing the components. Further control over the azobenzene isomerization kinetics produces protein single crystals of up to ≈50 μm. This approach offers an intriguing method to fabricate metamaterials and study optically controlled crystallization.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202303880
Number of pages9
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number28
Early online date9 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Azobenzene
  • Crystallization
  • Kinetic Pathway
  • Photo Responsiveness
  • Protein Cage


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