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Bottom-up synthetic biology has directed most efforts toward the construction of artificial compartmentalized systems that recreate living cell functions in their mechanical, morphological, or metabolic characteristics. However, bottom-up synthetic biology also offers great potential to study subcellular structures like organelles. Because of their intricate and complex structure, these key elements of eukaryotic life forms remain poorly understood. Here, the controlled assembly of lipid enclosed, organelle-like architectures is explored by droplet-based microfluidics. Three types of giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs)-based synthetic organelles (SOs) functioning within natural living cells are procedured: (A) synthetic peroxisomes supporting cellular stress-management, mimicking an organelle innate to the host cell by using analogous enzymatic modules; (B) synthetic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) as intracellular light-responsive calcium stores involved in intercellular calcium signalling, mimicking an organelle innate to the host cell but utilizing a fundamentally different mechanism; and (C) synthetic magnetosomes providing eukaryotic cells with a magnetotactic sense, mimicking an organelle that is not natural to the host cell but transplanting its functionality from other branches of the phylogenetic tree. Microfluidic assembly of functional SOs paves the way for high-throughput generation of versatile intracellular structures implantable into living cells. This in-droplet SO design may support or expand cellular functionalities in translational nanomedicine. © 2020 The Authors. Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


Oskar Staufer, Martin Schröter, Ilia Platzman, Joachim P Spatz. Bottom-Up Assembly of Functional Intracellular Synthetic Organelles by Droplet-Based Microfluidics. Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany). 2020 Jul;16(27):e1906424

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PMID: 32078238

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