Artificial cell synthesis using biocatalytic polymerization-induced self-assembly

Andrea Belluati, Sètuhn Jimaja, Robert J. Chadwick, Christopher Glynn, Mohamed Chami, Dominic Happel, Chao Guo, Harald Kolmar, Nico Bruns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Artificial cells are biomimetic microstructures that mimic functions of natural cells, can be applied as building blocks for molecular systems engineering, and host synthetic biology pathways. Here we report enzymatically synthesized polymer-based artificial cells with the ability to express proteins. Artificial cells were synthesized using biocatalytic atom transfer radical polymerization-induced self-assembly, in which myoglobin synthesizes amphiphilic block co-polymers that self-assemble into structures such as micelles, worm-like micelles, polymersomes and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). The GUVs encapsulate cargo during the polymerization, including enzymes, nanoparticles, microparticles, plasmids and cell lysate. The resulting artificial cells act as microreactors for enzymatic reactions and for osteoblast-inspired biomineralization. Moreover, they can express proteins such as a fluorescent protein and actin when fed with amino acids. Actin polymerizes in the vesicles and alters the artificial cells’ internal structure by creating internal compartments. Thus, biocatalytic atom transfer radical polymerization-induced self-assembly-derived GUVs can mimic bacteria as they are composed of a microscopic reaction compartment that contains genetic information for protein expression upon induction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-574
Number of pages11
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number4
Early online date4 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • molecular self-assembly
  • nanoscale materials
  • chemical origin of life
  • polymer synthesis
  • synthetic biology


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