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 Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen
24.03.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

nachricht Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices
24.03.2017 | Brigham Young University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>