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Life 2015, 5(1), 214-229; doi:10.3390/life5010214

Nanoporous Silica-Based Protocells at Multiple Scales for Designs of Life and Nanomedicine

1
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
2
Department of Bioengineering, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
3
Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NW 87106, USA
4
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Albuquerque, NW 87185, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Fabio Mavelli and Pasquale Stano
Received: 30 October 2014 / Revised: 29 December 2014 / Accepted: 6 January 2015 / Published: 19 January 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protocells - Designs for Life)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1455 KB, uploaded 19 January 2015]   |  

Abstract

Various protocell models have been constructed de novo with the bottom-up approach. Here we describe a silica-based protocell composed of a nanoporous amorphous silica core encapsulated within a lipid bilayer built by self-assembly that provides for independent definition of cell interior and the surface membrane. In this review, we will first describe the essential features of this architecture and then summarize the current development of silica-based protocells at both micro- and nanoscale with diverse functionalities. As the structure of the silica is relatively static, silica-core protocells do not have the ability to change shape, but their interior structure provides a highly crowded and, in some cases, authentic scaffold upon which biomolecular components and systems could be reconstituted. In basic research, the larger protocells based on precise silica replicas of cells could be developed into geometrically realistic bioreactor platforms to enable cellular functions like coupled biochemical reactions, while in translational research smaller protocells based on mesoporous silica nanoparticles are being developed for targeted nanomedicine. Ultimately we see two different motivations for protocell research and development: (1) to emulate life in order to understand it; and (2) to use biomimicry to engineer desired cellular interactions. View Full-Text
Keywords: protocell; nanoporous silica; synthetic biology; supported lipid bilayer; FRET; nanomedicine; designs of life protocell; nanoporous silica; synthetic biology; supported lipid bilayer; FRET; nanomedicine; designs of life
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sun, J.; Jakobsson, E.; Wang, Y.; Brinker, C.J. Nanoporous Silica-Based Protocells at Multiple Scales for Designs of Life and Nanomedicine. Life 2015, 5, 214-229.

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