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Glock, Philipp; Broichhagen, Johannes; Kretschmer, Simon; Blumhardt, Philipp; Mücksch, Jonas; Trauner, Dirk and Schwille, Petra (2018): Optical Control of a Biological Reaction-Diffusion System. In: Angewandte Chemie-International Edition, Vol. 57, No. 9: pp. 2362-2366

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Patterns formed by reaction and diffusion are the foundation for many phenomena in biology. However, the experimental study of reaction-diffusion (R-D) systems has so far been dominated by chemical oscillators, for which many tools are available. In this work, we developed a photoswitch for the Min system of Escherichia coli, a versatile biological in vitro R-D system consisting of the antagonistic proteins MinD and MinE. A MinE-derived peptide of 19 amino acids was covalently modified with a photoisomerizable crosslinker based on azobenzene to externally control peptide-mediated depletion of MinD from the membrane. In addition to providing an on-off switch for pattern formation, we achieve frequency-locked resonance with a precise 2D spatial memory, thus allowing new insights into Min protein action on the membrane. Taken together, we provide a tool to study phenomena in pattern formation using biological agents.

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