The development of programmable microscale materials with cell-like functions, dynamics and collective behaviour is an important milestone in systems chemistry, soft matter bioengineering and synthetic protobiology. Here, polymer/nucleotide coacervate micro-droplets are reconfigured into membrane-bounded polyoxometalate coacervate vesicles (PCVs) in the presence of a bio-inspired Ru-based polyoxometalate catalyst to produce synzyme protocells (Ru4PCVs) with catalase-like activity. We exploit the synthetic protocells for the implementation of multi-compartmentalized cell-like models capable of collective synzyme-mediated buoyancy, parallel catalytic processing in individual horseradish peroxidase-containing Ru4PCVs, and chemical signalling in distributed or encapsulated multi-catalytic protocell communities. Our results highlight a new type of catalytic micro-compartment with multi-functional activity and provide a step towards the development of protocell reaction networks.
- Bristol BioDesign Institute
- Synthetic biology