They separate the cell’s various metabolic functions, compartmentalize the genetic material, and drive evolution by separating a cell’s biochemical activities. They are also the largest and most complex structures that cells synthesize.
Understanding the myriad biochemical roles of membranes requires the ability to prepare synthetic versions of these complex multi-layered structures, which has been a long-standing challenge.
In a study published this week by Nature Chemistry, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) report a highly programmable and controlled platform for preparing and experimentally probing synthetic cellular structures.
“Layer-by-layer membrane assembly allows us to create synthetic cells with membranes of arbitrary complexity at the molecular and supramolecular scale,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Brian Paegel, who authored the study with Research Associate Sandro Matosevic. “We can now control the molecular composition of the inner and outer layers of a bilayer membrane, and even assemble multi-layered membranes that resemble the envelope of the cell nucleus.”
Starting with a technique commonly used to deposit molecules on a solid surface, Langmuir-Blodgett deposition, the scientists repurposed the approach to work on liquid objects.
The scientists engineered a microfluidic device containing an array of microscopic cups, each trapping a single droplet of water bathed in oil and lipids, the molecules that make up cellular membranes. The trapped droplets are then ready to serve as a foundation for building up a series of lipid layers like coats of paint.
The lipid-coated water droplets are first bathed in water. As the water/oil interface encounters the trapped droplets, a second lipid layer coats the droplets and transforms them into what are known as unilamellar or single-layer vesicles. Bathing the vesicles in oil/lipid deposits a third lipid layer, and followed by a final layer of lipids that is deposited on the trapped drops to yield double-bilayer vesicles.
“The computer-controlled microfluidic circuits we have constructed will allow us to assemble synthetic cells not only from biologically derived lipids, but from any amphiphile and to measure important chemical and physical parameters, such as permeability and stability,” said Paegel.The study, “Layer-by-layer Cell Membrane Assembly,” was supported by a National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Career Development Award (GM083155) and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1255250). For more information on the research, see http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nchem.1765.html
Eric Sauter | EurekAlert!
Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
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...
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...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
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...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
30.03.2017 | Studies and Analyses
30.03.2017 | Life Sciences