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Azobenzene photoswitches for biomolecules.

ABSTRACT

The photoisomerization of azobenzene has been known for almost 75 years but only recently has this process been widely applied to biological systems. The central challenge of how to productively couple the isomerization process to a large functional change in a biomolecule has been met in a number of instances and it appears that effective photocontrol of a large variety of biomolecules may be possible. This critical review summarizes key properties of azobenzene that enable its use as a photoswitch in biological systems and describes strategies for using azobenzene photoswitches to drive functional changes in peptides, proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates (192 references).