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:4/17/2017)... NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... its 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on Thursday April 13, ... ... the Investor Relations section of the Company,s website at http://www.nxt-id.com ... http://www.sec.gov . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 No two ... researchers at the New York University Tandon School ... Engineering have found that partial similarities between prints ... used in mobile phones and other electronic devices ... The vulnerability lies in the fact that ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS ... to expand at a CAGR of 25.76% during the ... is the primary factor for the growth of the ... https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4807905/ MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem ... technology, application, and geography. The stem cell market of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences ... the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan and ... presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary approach ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board ... Stubbs, a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected ... member of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... WA (PRWEB) , ... October ... ... industry leader in Hi-C-based genomic technologies, launched its ProxiMeta™ Hi-C metagenome deconvolution ... ProxiMeta Hi-C kit and accompanying cloud-based bioinformatics software to perform Hi-C metagenome ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... ... 2017 , ... LabRoots , the leading provider of educational and interactive ... back to cancer research with a month-long promotion supporting the advancement of breast cancer ... can use promo code PinkRibbon to get 10 percent off their purchase of every ...
Breaking Biology Technology: