Finally, a team led by Indo-American scientist successfully created an artificial cell membrane that shares characteristics of a living cell and is capable of sustained continual growth just like the living cell. Scientists believe that the discovery will enable them to accurately replicate features of the complex cell membranes of living organisms.
“The membranes we created, though completely synthetic, mimic several features of more complex living organisms, such as the ability to adapt their composition in response to environmental cues,” said lead author Neal Devaraj, an Indian-American assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at University of California, San Diego.
This isn’t the first attempt to create a synthetic living tissue, previously researchers have exploited the ability of lipids to self-assemble into bilayer vesicles with properties reminiscent of cellular membranes, however, their every effort went in vain and none got success in replicating the living cell’s ability to constantly form phospholipid membrane.
While explaining Devaraj said that his team substituted a complex network of biochemical pathways used in nature along with a single autocatalyst that triggers membrane growth similar to a living cell. Thus, the study authors have successfully transformed the high energy blocks into self-building synthetic membranes.
Scientists believe that the study will give a new insight towards synthetic biology, also it will help in better understanding the origin of life.
“Our results demonstrate that complex lipid membranes capable of indefinite self-synthesis can emerge when supplied with simpler chemical building blocks,” said Devaraj. “Synthetic cell membranes that can grow like real membranes will be an important new tool for synthetic biology and origin of life studies.”
The study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.