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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Aug 2;261(2):238-41.

Protein expression in liposomes.

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Institut für Polymere, ETH Zentrum, Universitätsstrasse 6, Zürich, 8092, Switzerland.


Compartmentalization is one of the key steps in the evolution of cellular structures and, so far, only few attempts have been made to model this kind of "compartmentalized chemistry" using liposomes. The present work shows that even such complex reactions as the ribosomal synthesis of polypeptides can be carried out in liposomes. A method is described for incorporating into 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-3-phosphocholine (POPC) liposomes the ribosomal complex together with the other components necessary for protein expression. Synthesis of poly(Phe) in the liposomes is monitored by trichloroacetic acid of the (14)C-labelled products. Control experiments carried out in the absence of one of the ribosomal subunits show by contrast no significant polypeptide expression. This methodology opens up the possibility of using liposomes as minimal cell bioreactors with growing degree of synthetic complexity, which may be relevant for the field of origin of life as well as for biotechnological applications.

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