First published 2 September 2013
Autonomous construction of synthetic cell membrane
Yutetsu Kuruma, Hideaki Matsubayashi, Takuya Ueda
A minimal artificial living cell is a sustainable and reproducible cell-like entity composed of biological components such as proteins, DNA, RNA and phospholipids (Luisi et al. (2006)). The most realistic strategy in producing such an artificial cell is assembling biomolecules that imitate the architecture and the function of biosystems in living organisms (Oberholzer et al. (1995)). Firstly we reconstructed the gene expression machinery with the minimal number of purified translation factors addressing the need for an artificial gene expression system. The PURE (Protein synthesis Using Recombinant Elements) system (Shimizu et al. (2001)), a key tool for bottom-up synthetic biology, enables information encoded in the DNA sequence to be converted to functional proteins and enzymes, and can be used in developing artificial cellular components. Another important and indispensable feature of artificial cells is the encapsulation of genetic information and gene expression system by a lipid bilayer membrane (Ishikawa et al. (2004); Kuruma et al. (2009)). This is also important to sustain an individual from environment. In addition to compartmentalization of biomolecule components, the membrane provides a structural platform for important biological functions such as selective transport of materials, adoption of environment information, production of energy, etc. Actually, many of the vital cell functions reside on the lipid membrane, and these functions mostly rely on membrane proteins.