Signal transduction in living systems is the conversion of information into a chemical change, and is the principal process by which cells communicate. In nature, these functions are encoded in non-equilibrium (bio)chemical reaction networks (CRNs) controlled by enzymes. However, man-made catalytically controlled networks are rare. We incorporated catalysis into an artificial fuel-driven out-of-equilibrium CRN, where the forward (ester formation) and backward (ester hydrolysis) reactions are controlled by varying the ratio of two organocatalysts: pyridine and imidazole. This catalytic regulation enables full control over ester yield and lifetime. This fuel-driven strategy was expanded to a responsive polymer system, where transient polymer conformation and aggregation are controlled through fuel and catalyst levels. Altogether, we show that organocatalysis can be used to control a man-made fuel-driven system and induce a change in a macromolecular superstructure, as in natural non-equilibrium systems.
- chemical reaction networks
- out-of-equilibrium systems