Intrinsically fluorescent polyureas toward conformation-assisted metamorphosis, discoloration and intracellular drug delivery
Yeqiang Zhou, Fan Fan, Jinling Zhao, Zhaoding Wang, Rui Wang, Yi Zheng, Hang Liu, Chuan Peng, Jianshu Li, Hong Tan, Qiang Fu & Mingming Ding
Peptidomimetic polymers have attracted increasing interest because of the advantages of facile synthesis, high molecular tunability, resistance to degradation, and low immunogenicity. However, the presence of non-native linkages compromises their ability to form higher ordered structures and protein-inspired functions. Here we report a class of amino acid-constructed polyureas with molecular weight- and solvent-dependent helical and sheet-like conformations as well as green fluorescent protein-mimic autofluorescence with aggregation-induced emission characteristics. The copolymers self-assemble into vesicles and nanotubes and exhibit H-bonding-mediated metamorphosis and discoloration behaviors. We show that these polymeric vehicles with ultrahigh stability, superfast responsivity and conformation-assisted cell internalization efficiency could act as an “on-off” switchable nanocarrier for specific intracellular drug delivery and effective cancer theranosis in vitro and in vivo. This work provides insights into the folding and hierarchical assembly of biomacromolecules, and a new generation of bioresponsive polymers and nonconventional luminescent aliphatic materials for diverse applications.
degradation, proteins, fluorescent, luminescence