CRC 235 Emergence of Life

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Growth of Giant Peptide Vesicles Driven by Compartmentalized Transcription‐Translation Activity

T. Frank 2020 Chem. Eur. J.


T. Frank, K. Vogele, A. Dupin, F.C. Simmel and T. Pirzer 

Chem. Eur. J.


Compartmentalization and spatial organization of biochemical reactions are essential for the establishment of complex metabolic pathways inside synthetic cells. Phospholipid and fatty acid membranes are the most natural candidates for this purpose, but also polymers have shown great potential as enclosures of artificial cell mimics. Here, we report on the formation of giant vesicles in a size range of 1 µm ‐ 100 µm using amphiphilic elastin‐like polypeptides. The peptide vesicles can accommodate cell‐free gene expression reactions, which is demonstrated by the transcription of a fluorescent RNA aptamer and the production of a fluorescent protein. Importantly, gene expression inside the vesicles leads to a strong growth of their size – up to an order of magnitude in volume in several cases ‐, which is driven by changes in osmotic pressure, resulting in fusion events and uptake of membrane peptides from the environment.