Navigation Links
Chemists synthesize artificial cell membrane
Date:1/25/2012

Chemists have taken an important step in making artificial life forms from scratch. Using a novel chemical reaction, they have created self-assembling cell membranes, the structural envelopes that contain and support the reactions required for life.

Neal Devaraj, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and Itay Budin, a graduate student at Harvard University, report their success in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"One of our long term, very ambitious goals is to try to make an artificial cell, a synthetic living unit from the bottom up to make a living organism from non-living molecules that have never been through or touched a living organism," Devaraj said. "Presumably this occurred at some point in the past. Otherwise life wouldn't exist."

By assembling an essential component of earthly life with no biological precursors, they hope to illuminate life's origins.

"We don't understand this really fundamental step in our existence, which is how non-living matter went to living matter," Devaraj said. "So this is a really ripe area to try to understand what knowledge we lack about how that transition might have occurred. That could teach us a lot even the basic chemical, biological principles that are necessary for life."

Molecules that make up cell membranes have heads that mix easily with water and tails that repel it. In water, they form a double layer with heads out and tails in, a barrier that sequesters the contents of the cell.

Devaraj and Budin created similar molecules with a novel reaction that joins two chains of lipids. Nature uses complex enzymes that are themselves embedded in membranes to accomplish this, making it hard to understand how the very first membranes came to be.

"In our system, we use a sort of primitive catalyst, a very simple metal ion," Devaraj said. "The reaction itself is completely artificial. There's no biological equivalent of this chemical reaction. This is how you could have a de novo formation of membranes."

They created the synthetic membranes from a watery emulsion of an oil and a detergent. Alone it's stable. Add copper ions and sturdy vesicles and tubules begin to bud off the oil droplets. After 24 hours, the oil droplets are gone, "consumed" by the self-assembling membranes.

Although other scientists recently announced the creation of a "synthetic cell," only its genome was artificial. The rest was a hijacked bacterial cell. Fully artificial life will require the union of both an information-carrying genome and a three-dimensional structure to house it.

The real value of this discovery might reside in its simplicity. From commercially available precursors, the scientists needed just one preparatory step to create each starting lipid chain.

"It's trivial and can be done in a day," Devaraj said. "New people who join the lab can make membranes from day one."


'/>"/>

Contact: Neal Devaraj
scinews@ucsd.edu
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Chemists unlock potential target for drug development
2. Chemists reveal the force within you
3. Clemson University biochemists identify new genetic code repair tool
4. Tel Aviv Universitys Sackler Prizes awarded to 2 North American chemists
5. K-State chemists biosensor may improve food, water safety and cancer detection
6. UCSB chemists make discovery that may lead to drug treatment possibilities for Alzheimers
7. Chemists turn gold to purple -- on purpose
8. Chemists document workings of key staph enzyme -- and how to block it
9. US launches International Year of Chemistry Feb. 1 with panel of world-renowned chemists
10. Chemists concoct new agents to easily study critical cell proteins
11. Team of chemists produces biodiesel at their university, using used cooking oil as a basis
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/21/2016)... 21, 2016 NuData Security announced today that ... of principal product architect and that Jon ... customer development. Both will report directly to ... moves reflect NuData,s strategic growth in its product ... customer demand and customer focus values. ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... FRANCISCO , June 16, 2016 ... size is expected to reach USD 1.83 ... by Grand View Research, Inc. Technological proliferation and ... banking applications are expected to drive the market ... ) , The development of advanced ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control software, allowing ... are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377487 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/4/2016)...  In five studies being presented today during the ... Exposition in San Diego , researchers ... delivery of life-saving treatments to patients with a variety ... carry therapies directly to the sites in the body ... substantial advantage over traditional, systemic methods. The studies highlight ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... HARBOR, N.Y. , Dec. 2, 2016 More ... Laboratory,s (CSHL) 11th Double Helix Medals dinner ( DHMD ). The gala ... in New York City and honored ... for their contributions, respectively, to health and medicine and the ... Muhammad Ali in 2006, the event has raised $40 ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , Dec. 2, 2016 CytRx Corporation ... development company specializing in oncology, today announced the appointment ... sarcoma surgeon, industry consultant, and private healthcare investor, to ... a healthcare leader with clinical and strategic experience at ... CytRx,s Chairman and CEO. "As one of the world,s ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 01, 2016 , ... ... DNA microarray comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) for HER2 genomic subtyping in ... molecular test results from tumors with previously documented positive, negative, and equivocal ...
Breaking Biology Technology: