Séminaire d’Alexandre Baccouche, post-doctorant à l’Université de Trente, département CIBIO (Armenise-Harvard laboratory of synthetic and reconstructive biology) :

« Artificial cells in synthetic biology: from metabolic engineering to soft-robots »

Le mercredi 23 mars à 14h
Salle du conseil de l’IEMN – Laboratoire central – Villeneuve d’Ascq


Artificial cells is a sub-field of synthetic biology dedicated to the bottom-up assembly of cell-like compartments able to grow, divide, sense and response to their environment. This blossoming field mingles different communities such as protocells to elucidate the origin of life [1,2], bioengineers in protein production and energy harvesting [3], or even hybrid cellular ecosystems where the artificials cells coexist with natural cells [4,5]. The compartment is often made of phospholipid bilayers grafted with transmembrane peptides or proteins, and have fueled numerous exciting studies on the origin of life and the prebiotic chemistry field, but the synthetic biology community also has interest in encapsulating synthetic genetic circuits for protein production or mimick cellular activity. The production of molecules of interest (often proteins) within the compartment is ensured by a genetic construct (plasmid) bathing in cell-free protein synthesis systems (CFPS systems): everything required to transcribe and translate the gene of interest into a fully functional protein [6].

In this presentation I will introduce the key-features of artificial cells and the technical challenges for high throughput microfluidic production, and illustrate the applications with two projects conducted in the laboratory: the reconstruction of biosynthetic pathway and an example of hybrid cellular ecosystem.

(1) Chen, I. A.; Roberts, R. W.; Szostak, J. W. The Emergence of Competition Between Model Protocells. Science 2004 , 305 (5689), 1474–1476. https://doi.org/10.1126/ science.1100757
(2) Schreiber, A.; Huber, M. C.; Schiller, S. M. Prebiotic Protocell Model Based on Dynamic Protein Membranes Accommodating Anabolic Reactions. Langmuir 2019 , 35 (29), 9593–9610. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs. langmuir.9b00445
(3) Berhanu, S.; Ueda, T.; Kuruma, Y. Artificial Photosynthetic Cell Producing Energy for Protein Synthesis. Nat. Commun. 2019 , 10 (1), 1325. https://doi.org/10.1038/ s41467-019-09147-4
(4) Lentini, R.; Martín, N. Y.; Forlin, M.; Belmonte, L.; Fontana, J.; Cornella, M.; Martini, L.; Tamburini, S.; Bentley, W. E.; Jousson, O.; Mansy, S. S. Two-Way Chemical Communication between Artificial and Natural Cells. ACS Cent. Sci. 2017 , 3 (2), 117–123. https://doi.org/10.1021/ acscentsci.6b00330
(5) Robinson, A. O.; Venero, O. M.; Adamala, K. P. Toward Synthetic Life: Biomimetic Synthetic Cell Communication. Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol. 2021 , 64 , 165–173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. cbpa.2021.08.008
(6) Sun, Z. Z.; Hayes, C. A.; Shin, J.; Caschera, F.; Murray, R. M.; Noireaux, V. Protocols for Implementing an Escherichia Coli Based TX-TL Cell-Free Expression System for Synthetic Biology. J. Vis. Exp. 2013 , No. 79, 50762. https://doi.org/10.3791/50762