Enzyme Shielding in an Enzyme-thin and Soft Organosilica Layer
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The fragile nature of most enzymes is a major hindrance to their use in industrial processes. Herein, we describe a synthetic chem. strategy to produce hybrid org./inorg. nanobiocatalysts; it exploits the self-assembly of silane building blocks at the surface of enzymes to grow an organosilica layer, of controlled thickness, that fully shields the enzyme. Remarkably, the enzyme triggers a rearrangement of this organosilica layer into a significantly soft structure. We demonstrate that this change in stiffness correlates with the biocatalytic turnover rate, and that the organosilica layer shields the enzyme in a soft environment with a markedly enhanced resistance to denaturing stresses.