Development of an artificial cell, from self-organization to computation and self-reproduction

Vincent Noireaux, Yusuke T. Maeda, Albert Libchaber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

201 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article describes the state and the development of an artificial cell project. We discuss the experimental constraints to synthesize the most elementary cell-sized compartment that can self-reproduce using synthetic genetic information. The original ideawas to program a phospholipid vesicle with DNA. Based on this idea, it was shown that in vitro gene expression could be carried out inside cell-sized synthetic vesicles. It was also shown that a couple of genes could be expressed for a few days inside the vesicles once the exchanges of nutrients with the outside environment were adequately introduced. The development of a cell-free transcription/translation toolbox allows the expression of a large number of genes with multiple transcription factors. As a result, the development of a synthetic DNA program is becoming one of themain hurdles. We discuss the various possibilities to enrich and to replicate this program. Defining a program for self-reproduction remains a difficult question as nongenetic processes, such as molecular self-organization, play an essential and complementary role. The synthesis of a stable compartment with an active interface, one of the critical bottlenecks in the synthesis of artificial cell, depends on the properties of phospholipid membranes. The problem of a self-replicating artificial cell is a long-lasting goal that might imply evolution experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3473-3480
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume108
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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