Autonomic Behaviors in Lipase-Active Oil Droplets

Lei Wang, Youping Lin, Yuting Zhou, Hui Xie, Jianmin Song, Mei Li, Yudong Huang, Xin Huang*, Stephen Mann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
316 Downloads (Pure)


Developing self-fueled micro-reactor droplets with programmable autonomic behaviors provides a step towards smart liquid dispersions comprising motile microscale objects. Herein, we prepare aqueous suspensions of lipase-coated oil globules comprising a mixture of a triglyceride substrate (tributyrin, 1,2,3-tributylglycerol) and a low-density oil (polydimethylsiloxane, PDMS) and describe a range of active behaviors based on controlled enzyme-mediated consumption of individual droplets under non-equilibrium conditions. Encapsulation of the lipase-coated lipid/PDMS droplets into a model protocell as energy-rich sub-compartments is demonstrated as an internalized mechanism for activating protocell buoyancy. Taken together, our results highlight opportunities for the regulation of autonomic behavior in enzyme-powered oil droplets and provide a new platform for increasing the functionality and energization of synthetic protocells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1071
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number4
Early online date17 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2019


  • dynamic behavior
  • protocells
  • self-assembly
  • self-oscillating


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