Report

Programmable on-chip DNA compartments as artificial cells

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  15 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6198, pp. 829-832
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255550

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Toward an “artificial cell” on a chip

Cell-free systems that reconstitute biochemical pathways have been critical for unraveling the inner workings of the cell. Karzbrun et al. created a highly miniaturized cell-free system on a silicon chip. A series of tiny linked compartments were fabricated on the chip, in which DNA-driven reactions occurred, with materials flowing into and diffusing between the compartments. The system recreated oscillating protein expression patterns and protein gradients, and provides a stepping stone to creating “artificial cells” on a chip.

Science, this issue p. 829

Abstract

The assembly of artificial cells capable of executing synthetic DNA programs has been an important goal for basic research and biotechnology. We assembled two-dimensional DNA compartments fabricated in silicon as artificial cells capable of metabolism, programmable protein synthesis, and communication. Metabolism is maintained by continuous diffusion of nutrients and products through a thin capillary, connecting protein synthesis in the DNA compartment with the environment. We programmed protein expression cycles, autoregulated protein levels, and a signaling expression gradient, equivalent to a morphogen, in an array of interconnected compartments at the scale of an embryo. Gene expression in the DNA compartment reveals a rich, dynamic system that is controlled by geometry, offering a means for studying biological networks outside a living cell.

View Full Text