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Langmuir. 2011 Nov 1;27(21):13082-90. doi: 10.1021/la202648h. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

Programmed vesicle fusion triggers gene expression.

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Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT), Institute of Physics and Chemistry, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark.


The membrane properties of phospholipid vesicles can be manipulated to both regulate and initiate encapsulated biochemical reactions and networks. We present evidence for the inhibition and activation of reactions encapsulated in vesicles by the exogenous addition of charged amphiphiles. While the incorporation of cationic amphiphile exerts an inhibitory effect, complementation of additional anionic amphiphiles revitalize the reaction. We demonstrated both the simple hydrolysis reaction of β-glucuronidase and the in vitro gene expression of this enzyme from a DNA template. Furthermore, we show that two vesicle populations decorated separately with positive and negative amphiphiles can fuse selectively to supply feeding components to initiate encapsulated reactions. This mechanism could be one of the rudimentary but effective means to regulate and maintain metabolism in dynamic artificial cell models.

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