We report on the formation of surfactant-based complex catanionic coacervate droplets in mixtures of decanoic acid and cetylpyridinium chloride or cetyltrimethylammonium bromide. We show that coacervation occurs over a broad range of composition, pH, and ionic strength. The catanionic coacervates consist of elongated micelles, sequester a wide range of solutes including water-soluble organic dyes, polysaccharides, proteins, enzymes, and DNA, and can be structurally stabilized by sodium alginate or gelatin-based hydrogelation. These results suggest that catanionic coacervates could be exploited as a novel surfactant-based membrane-free protocell model.
- protein crowding