Novel directions in molecular systems design: The case of light-transducing synthetic cells

Pasquale Stano, Emiliano Altamura, Fabio Mavelli
2017 Communicative & Integrative Biology  
Important progresses have been achieved in the past years in the field of bottom-up synthetic biology, especially aiming at constructing cell-like systems based on lipid vesicles (liposomes) entrapping both biomolecules or synthetic compounds. These "synthetic cells" mimic the behaviour of biological cells but are constituted by a minimal number of components. One key aspect related to this research is the energetic needs of synthetic cells. Up to now, high-energy compounds have been given in
more » ... der to drive biochemical reactions inside the vesicle lumen. In order to be autonomous, synthetic cells must produce their own biochemical energy from available energy sources. At this aim we started a long-term research program focused on the construction of photoautotrophic synthetic cells, starting with the reconstitution, in active and highly oriented form, of the photosynthetic reaction centre in giant lipid vesicles (Altamura et al., PNAS 2017, 114, 3837-3842). Here we comment this first milestone by showing the synthetic biology context wherein it is developed, the future steps, and the experimental approach that might allow such an achievement. Addendum to: Altamura, E.; Milano, F.; Tangorra, R. R.; Trotta, M.; Hassan Omar, O.; Stano, P.; Mavelli, F. Highly oriented photosynthetic reaction centers generate a proton gradient in synthetic protocells.
doi:10.1080/19420889.2017.1365993 pmid:29260799 pmcid:PMC5731512 fatcat:5mwfycanqnd5ddxkoq37jyo7fq