DS0305 -

Engineering nano-heaters in vivo using metal-load nano-cage assembly – Nanoheaters

Submission summary

Our project aims at developing an original approach using bacterial cells as living factories that produce nanoparticles with remarkable electromagnetic properties and that provide numerous advantages, including monodispersity, stability, and controlled surface properties.
For this purpose, we will design genetically encoded inorganic nanoparticles directly produced in bacteria by combining tools from biotechnology, nanoscience, and geomicrobiology. To do so, we will engineer Escherichia coli, the easy-to-grow microbe that is at the foundation of the numerous biotechnology industries. This approach will accelerate the discovery of new technologies and also favor sustainable processes in preparation to the transition toward a bio-based economy.
Starting from the ability of bacteria to synthesize well-controlled inorganic nanoparticles in ferritin/ferrihydrite protein mineral complexes, we will engineer and characterize protein nanocages to have specific magnetic and plasmonic properties while being able to target a precise pool of proteins in vitro and in vivo. In order to enhance their electromagnetic properties, we will use a biomimetic approach consisting in generating multiscale assemblies of protein nanocages. This will provide a bottom-up approach to organize in space individual nanoobjects by harnessing the intrinsic self-assembly properties of interacting biomolecules, such as the self-organization of the cell cytoskeleton. Our goal is to generate inducible and reversible formation of mesoscale structures of nanocages, including tri-dimensional clusters, with diameters ranging from 30 nm to 1 µm, and micrometric-length one-dimensional alignments. We will next examine how these nanoobjects deliver thermal energy upon interaction with an electromagnetic field using the nanocages both as nanoheaters and as sensors of the local temperature. This will lead to the remote stimulation of genetically produced nanoparticles.
The impacts of our project are numerous. First, the development of microbial cell factories to produce high-value nanooxides may pave the way for innovative industrial production (monodispersed nanomagnets fused to therapeutic antibodies, greener catalysts based on hybrid iron oxides…) while providing greener and cost-effective nanotechnologies. Second, our strategy will lead to the development of a novel approach, the remote stimulation of genetically produced nanoparticles and their ability to behave as nanosources of heat, controllable either by a magnetic field or by light (hyperthermia, gene expression triggering using heat…).

Project coordinator


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


MNHN - UMR 7590 IMPMC Institut de Minéralogie de Physique des Matériaux et de Cosmochimie
Institut Fresnel Institut Fresnel, UMR 7249

Help of the ANR 497,749 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2016 - 42 Months

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