Designs for life: protocell models in the laboratory

Alicja J. Dzieciol, Stephen Mann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)

137 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Compartmentalization of primitive biochemical reactions within membrane-bound water microdroplets is considered an essential step in the origin of life. In the absence of complex biochemical machinery, the hypothetical precursors to the first biological cells (protocells) would be dependent on the self-organization of their components and physicochemical conditions of the environment to attain a basic level of autonomy and evolutionary viability. Many researchers consider the self-organization of lipid and fatty acid molecules into bilayer vesicles as a simple form of membrane-based compartmentalization that can be developed for the experimental design and construction of plausible protocell models. In this tutorial review, we highlight some of the recent advances and issues concerning the construction of simple cell-like systems in the laboratory. Overcoming many of the current scientific challenges should lead to new types of chemical bio-reactors and artificial cell-like entities, and bring new insights concerning the possible pathways responsible for the origin of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-85
Number of pages7
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • SELF-REPRODUCING VESICLES
  • MONOCARBOXYLIC ACIDS
  • LIPID VESICLES
  • GROWTH
  • CELL
  • QUANTIFICATION
  • ENCAPSULATION
  • ORIGIN

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