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Scientists develop new process to create artificial cell membranes

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Posted October 2, 2013

The membranes surrounding and inside cells are involved in every aspect of biological function. They separate the cell’s various metabolic functions, compartmentalize the genetic material, and drive evolution by separating a cell’s biochemical activities. They are also the largest and most complex structures that cells synthesize.

Understanding the myriad biochemical roles of membranes requires the ability to prepare synthetic versions of these complex multi-layered structures, which has been a long-standing challenge.

In a study published this week by Nature Chemistry, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) report a highly programmable and controlled platform for preparing and experimentally probing synthetic cellular structures.

“Layer-by-layer membrane assembly allows us to create synthetic cells with membranes of arbitrary complexity at the molecular and supramolecular scale,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Brian Paegel, who authored the study with Research Associate Sandro Matosevic. “We can now control the molecular composition of the inner and outer layers of a bilayer membrane, and even assemble multi-layered membranes that resemble the envelope of the cell nucleus.”

Starting with a technique commonly used to deposit molecules on a solid surface, Langmuir-Blodgett deposition, the scientists repurposed the approach to work on liquid objects.

 

Read more at: Phys.org

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