Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Artificial Cells Mimic Nature’s Tiny Reactors

09.10.2015

A new approach creates microscale bioreactors for studying complex reactions for energy production and storage.

Artificial cells that mimic their natural counterparts help scientists learn the secrets of complex processes, such as how plant cells turn sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel. Today’s artificial cells often become unstable when materials transit the membrane.


Image courtesy of Christine Keating

On the left: Fluorescent microscope image shows artificial bioreactors composed of sugar-based dextran polymer solution (blue) encapsulated within a shell of lipid vesicles (red). On the right: schematic illustration of what the vesicles look like at the aqueous/aqueous interface. Blue and yellow shading indicate the interior and exterior solutions.

Scientists have developed a new artificial cell where lipid vesicles (small pools of fatty molecules) self-assemble around treated water droplets. The result is an artificial cell or microscopic bioreactor.

The Impact

This new type of cell-like bioreactor could offer substantial advantages for carrying out complex synthesis processes that mimic natural processes. It could also offer benefits in conducting massively parallel chemical reactions.

Summary

Scientists discovered a new process for spontaneously forming “artificial cells” that can function as bioreactors through the self-assembly of polymer-rich water droplets within lipid-rich water droplets.

In essence, the artificial bioreactor is composed of a shell membrane through which reactants and products can selectively pass through, and an interior environment where the reactions occur. Lipid-, polymer-, and gel-based processes for preparing bioreactors modelled after biological cells have been previously developed; maintaining stable reaction-relevant internal environments while simultaneously allowing reactants and products to easily pass through have remained a key challenge.

Now, researchers at the Pennsylvania State University have developed a new type of water-in-water composite emulsion, based on self-assembly of microscale aqueous droplets surrounded by nanoscale lipid capsules in a continuous aqueous phase. These lipid-stabilized water-in-water assemblies provide an exciting alternative to traditional giant lipid vesicles, or liposomes, as artificial cell mimics. In comparison to traditional giant liposomes, which encapsulate a similar aqueous volume within a single continuous lipid membrane, the structures introduced here offer

(1) facile encapsulation of proteins in the interior phase as well as polymer agents for controlling the progress of the desired reaction

(2) excellent uniformity in droplet size and contents

(3) much greater access into and out of the interior volume.

The researchers found that negatively charged lipid capsules, each on the order of 100 nanometers in diameter, self-assemble at the aqueous interface of polymer-rich droplets that are tens of microns in diameter. The repulsion between the lipid capsules due their negative charges forced them to maintain their assembled structure, essentially gluing them together and stabilizing the overall bioreactor composite. A particularly exciting capability of these composite assemblies is the preferential partitioning of DNA within the interior compartment based on the length of the DNA, which bodes well for designing and preparing micro-reactors in which combinations of reactants can be selectively introduced and maintained at desired levels. In addition, ribozyme-induced cleavage of RNA encapsulated within the interior is as another example of the bioreactor’s unique capability.

Funding

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (development and characterization of liposome-stabilized emulsions) and the NASA Exobiology program (RNA compartmentalization and cleavage reactions).

Publications

D.C. Dewey, C.A. Strulson, D.N. Cacace, P.C. Bevilacqua, and C.D. Keating, “Bioreactor droplets from liposome-stabilized all-aqueous emulsions.” Nature Communications 5, 4670 (2014). [DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5670]

Contact Information
Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov

Kristin Manke | newswise
Further information:
http://www.science.doe.gov

Further reports about: RNA artificial bioreactor droplets liposomes vesicles water droplets

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Think laterally to sidestep production problems
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics
16.10.2017 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays

18.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>