A viable strategy to encapsulate a fluorophore/photochrome dyad and a nitric oxide photodonor within supramolecular assemblies of a cyclodextrin-based polymer in water was developed. The two photoresponsive guests do not interact with each other within their supramolecular container and can be operated in parallel under optical control. Specifically, the dyad permits the reversible switching of fluorescence on a microsecond timescale for hundreds of cycles, and the photodonor enables the irreversible release of nitric oxide. Furthermore, these supramolecular assemblies cross the membrane of human melanoma cancer cells and transport their cargo in the cytosol. The fluorescence of one component allows the visualization of the labeled cells, and its switchable character could, in principle, be used to acquire super-resolution images, while the release of nitric oxide from the other induces significant cell mortality. Thus, our design logic for the construction of biocompatible nanoparticles with dual functionality might evolve into the realization of valuable photoresponsive probes for imaging and therapeutic applications. Cyclodextrins: Photoresponsive polymer nanoparticles encapsulate fluorophore/photochrome dyads and nitric oxide photodonors within their hydrophobic interior and transport their cargo across the membrane of living cells. The two guests can be used simultaneously within the macromolecular host to activate fluorescence and release nitric oxide under optical control (see scheme).
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