Response-Retaliation Behavior in Synthetic Protocell Communities

Yan Qiao, Mei Li, Dong Qiu, Stephen Mann*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

48 Citations (Scopus)
168 Downloads (Pure)


Two different artificial predation strategies are spatially and temporally coupled to generate a simple tit-for-tat mechanism in a ternary protocell network capable of antagonistic enzyme-mediated interactions. The consortium initially consists of protease-sensitive glucose-oxidase-containing proteinosomes (1), non-interacting pH-sensitive polypeptide/mononucleotide coacervate droplets containing proteinase K (2), and proteinosome-adhered pH-resistant polymer/polysaccharide coacervate droplets (3). On receiving a glucose signal, secretion of protons from 1 triggers the disassembly of 2 and the released protease is transferred to 3 to initiate a delayed contact-dependent killing of the proteinosomes and cessation of glucose oxidase activity. Our results provide a step towards complex mesoscale dynamics based on programmable response-retaliation behavior in artificial protocell consortia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17758-17763
Number of pages6
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number49
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020

Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • coacervate
  • enzyme
  • proteinosome
  • response-retaliation behavior
  • synthetic protocell
  • Synthetic biology


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