The design and construction of synthetic therapeutic protocells capable of establishing cognate chemical communication channels with living cells is an important challenge for synthetic biology and bio-engineering. Here we develop a step towards protocell-mediated nitric-oxide-induced vasodilation by constructing a new synthetic cell model based on bio-derived coacervate vesicles with high haemocompatibility and increased blood circulation times. The hybrid protocells are prepared by the spontaneous self-assembly of haemoglobin-containing erythrocyte membrane fragments on the surface of preformed polysaccharide–polynucleotide coacervate micro-droplets containing glucose oxidase. We use the sequestered enzymes to program a spatially coupled glucose oxidase/haemoglobin reaction cascade, which in the presence of glucose and hydroxyurea generates a protocell-mediated flux of nitric oxide that we exploit for in vitro and in vivo blood vessel vasodilation. Taken together, our results provide new opportunities for the development of endogenously organized cell-like entities (biocompatible micro-bots) geared specifically towards active interfacing with individual living cells and cell communities.
- Bristol BioDesign Institute
- Max Planck Bristol