Manipulation of Macromolecular Uptake In Coacervate Systems
: Towards the Functional Design of Hybrid Protocells

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Coacervates, often recognised as a protocellular containment system, are droplets comprised of a membrane-free, highly-charged matrix formed frequently by electrostatic matching and entropic drive between oppositely charged macromolecules and polymers. Selective molecular sequestration occurs depending on the constituent coacervates components, which induces enriched compartmentalised systems. Enhanced enzymatic rates are observed due to increased local concentrations and reduced diffusion distances. Here, both synthetic and biological components have been added to coacervates to explore the potential of creating functional hybrid protocells with higher order properties. In this manuscript, such systems are explored with adenosine triphosphate and poly(diallyldimethylammonium) chloride coacervate droplets.

The main objective of this thesis is to demonstrate the ability to create internal compartments within a coacervate droplet, allowing for the localisation of substrates and reaction cascades in imitation of biological sub-cellular organisation. A secondary objective shows the capability to add further functionalisation to the system with the addition of artificial membranes that can be further functionalised with components allowing for signal transduction, in this case a light-responsive protein.
Date of Award25 Sep 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorStephen Mann (Supervisor) & J L R Anderson (Supervisor)

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