Published today in Science Advances, their achievement is a prime example of biomimetic design -- the creation of systems that mimic ideas from nature. "Natural biological receptors can recognize tiny structural differences between male and female steroid hormones using their protein pockets," the authors say. "However, it has been challenging to emulate this function artificially until now."
The key to their breakthrough was the unique design of the cavity (mimicking the natural pocket but using unnatural components) within the receptor. This cavity, encircled by polyaromatic frameworks held together with metal ions, enabled the receptor to act as a semi-rigid container -- one flexible enough to complement the shape of the hormone and to induce effective bonding interactions.
Study - Michito - Yoshizawa - Masahiro - Yamashina
The study, conducted by Michito Yoshizawa, Masahiro Yamashina and co-workers, is a continuation of the team's previous work on developing innovative nanocapsules for a wide range of biosensing applications in the medical and environmental fields.
Their experiments showed that the synthetic receptor preferentially binds steroid sex hormones in an order similar to natural androgen receptors, beginning with male hormones such as testosterone and androsterone, followed by female hormones such as progesterone and beta-estradiol. When placed in a mixture of male and female hormones suspended in an aqueous solution at 60 degrees Celsius for ten minutes, the receptor...
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