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Development of Artificial Cell Models Using Microfluidic Technology and Synthetic Biology

Division of Molecular Science, Graduate School of Science and Technology, Gunma University, 1-5-1 Tenjin-cho, Kiryu City, Gunma 376-8515, Japan
Micromachines 2020, 11(6), 559; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11060559
Received: 14 May 2020 / Revised: 28 May 2020 / Accepted: 29 May 2020 / Published: 30 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances of Molecular Machines and Molecular Robots)
Giant lipid vesicles or liposomes are primarily composed of phospholipids and form a lipid bilayer structurally similar to that of the cell membrane. These vesicles, like living cells, are 5–100 μm in diameter and can be easily observed using an optical microscope. As their biophysical and biochemical properties are similar to those of the cell membrane, they serve as model cell membranes for the investigation of the biophysical or biochemical properties of the lipid bilayer, as well as its dynamics and structure. Investigation of membrane protein functions and enzyme reactions has revealed the presence of soluble or membrane proteins integrated in the giant lipid vesicles. Recent developments in microfluidic technologies and synthetic biology have enabled the development of well-defined artificial cell models with complex reactions based on the giant lipid vesicles. In this review, using microfluidics, the formations of giant lipid vesicles with asymmetric lipid membranes or complex structures have been described. Subsequently, the roles of these biomaterials in the creation of artificial cell models including nanopores, ion channels, and other membrane and soluble proteins have been discussed. Finally, the complex biological functions of giant lipid vesicles reconstituted with various types of biomolecules has been communicated. These complex artificial cell models contribute to the production of minimal cells or protocells for generating valuable or rare biomolecules and communicating between living cells and artificial cell models. View Full-Text
Keywords: microfluidics; synthetic biology; artificial cell model; minimal cell; giant lipid vesicles; liposomes; membrane proteins; molecular robots microfluidics; synthetic biology; artificial cell model; minimal cell; giant lipid vesicles; liposomes; membrane proteins; molecular robots
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Kamiya, K. Development of Artificial Cell Models Using Microfluidic Technology and Synthetic Biology. Micromachines 2020, 11, 559.

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