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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2012 Dec;16(5-6):586-92. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2012.10.020. Epub 2012 Nov 6.

Cellular imitations.

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CIBIO, University of Trento, via delle Regole 101, 38123 Mattarello, Italy.


Synthetic biologists typically construct new pathways within existing cells. While useful, this approach in many ways ignores the undefined but necessary components of life. A growing number of laboratories have begun to try to remove some of the mysteries of cellular life by building life-like systems from non-living component parts. Some of these attempts rely on purely chemical and physical forces alone without the aid of biological molecules, while others try to build artificial cells from the parts of life, such as nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids. Both bottom-up strategies suffer from the complication of trying to build something that remains undefined. The result has been the development of research programs that try to build systems that mimic in some way recognized living systems. Since it is difficult to quantify the mimicry of life, success often times is evaluated with a degree of subjectivity. Herein we highlight recent advances in mimicking the organization and behavior of cellular life from the bottom-up.

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