Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists create cell assembly line: New technology synthesizes cellular structures from simple starting materials

Date:
March 4, 2011
Source:
Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
Borrowing a page from modern manufacturing, scientists have built a microscopic assembly line that mass produces synthetic cell-like compartments.

Artist's rendering of cell structure.
Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki

Borrowing a page from modern manufacturing, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have built a microscopic assembly line that mass produces synthetic cell-like compartments.

The new computer-controlled system represents a technological leap forward in the race to create the complex membrane structures of biological cells from simple chemical starting materials.

"Biology is full of synthetic targets that have inspired chemists for more than a century," said Brian Paegel, Scripps Research assistant professor and lead author of a new study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. "The lipid membrane assemblies of cells and their organelles pose a daunting challenge to the chemist who wants to synthesize these structures with the same rational approaches used in the preparation of small molecules."

While most cellular components such as genes or proteins are easily prepared in the laboratory, little has been done to develop a method of synthesizing cell membranes in a uniform, automated way. Current approaches are capricious in nature, yielding complex mixtures of products and inefficient cargo loading into the resultant cell-like structures.

The new technology transforms the previously difficult synthesis of cell membranes into a controlled process, customizable over a range of cell sizes, and highly efficient in terms of cargo encapsulation.

The membrane that surrounds all cells, organelles and vesicles -- small subcellular compartments -- consists of a phospholipid bilayer that serves as a barrier, separating an internal space from the external medium.

The new process creates a laboratory version of this bilayer that is formed into small, cell-sized compartments.

How It Works

"The assembly-line process is simple and, from a chemistry standpoint, mechanistically clear," said Sandro Matosevic, research associate and co-author of the study.

A microfluidic circuit generates water droplets in lipid-containing oil. The lipid-coated droplets travel down one branch of a Y-shaped circuit and merge with a second water stream at the Y-junction. The combined flows of droplets in oil and water travel in parallel streams toward a triangular guidepost.

Then, the triangular guide diverts the lipid-coated droplets into the parallel water stream as a wing dam might divert a line of small boats into another part of a river. As the droplets cross the oil-water interface, a second layer of lipids deposits on the droplet, forming a bilayer.

The end result is a continuous stream of uniformly shaped cell-like compartments.

The newly created vesicles range from 20 to 70 micrometers in diameter -- from about the size of a skin cell to that of a human hair. The entire circuit fits on a glass chip roughly the size of a poker chip.

The researchers also tested the synthetic bilayers for their ability to house a prototypical membrane protein. The proteins correctly inserted into the synthetic membrane, proving that they resemble membranes found in biological cells.

"Membranes and compartmentalization are ubiquitous themes in biology," noted Paegel. "We are constructing these synthetic systems to understand why compartmentalized chemistry is a hallmark of life, and how it might be leveraged in therapeutic delivery."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sandro Matosevic, Brian M. Paegel. Stepwise Synthesis of Giant Unilamellar Vesicles on a Microfluidic Assembly Line. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011; 110210133308021 DOI: 10.1021/ja109137s

Cite This Page:

Scripps Research Institute. "Scientists create cell assembly line: New technology synthesizes cellular structures from simple starting materials." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303184121.htm>.
Scripps Research Institute. (2011, March 4). Scientists create cell assembly line: New technology synthesizes cellular structures from simple starting materials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303184121.htm
Scripps Research Institute. "Scientists create cell assembly line: New technology synthesizes cellular structures from simple starting materials." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303184121.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) — An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) — Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins