Special Issue "Advances in Synthetic Biology: Artificial Cells and Cell-Free Systems"

A special issue of Cells (ISSN 2073-4409).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Wen Shan Yew

National University of Singapore, Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation (SynCTI), Singapore
Website | E-Mail
Interests: synthetic enzymology; mechanistic enzymology; synthetic biology; therapeutics; environmental sustainability
Guest Editor
Dr. Fabio Mavelli

Chemistry Department, University of Bari, Via Orabona 4, 70124 Bari, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: giant lipid vesicles; light transduction; compartimentalized chemical reacting systems; stochastic effects

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The construction of synthetic cells of minimal complexity, i.e., protocells, is today one of the most attractive and challenging goals in synthetic biology. Two different approaches can be adopted: Starting from living beings and reducing their complexity (top down approach) or assembling inanimate compounds by combining liposome technologies and microfluidics with components of cell-free systems (bottom up approach).

The aim of this Special Issue is to illustrate the state-of-the-art of bottom up synthetic cell research by presenting current trends and field-leading work that could lead to qualitative advancement in the coming years.

Distillations of trends and work include: novel multi-compartment vesicles; the achieving of new functions via the reconstitution of trans-membrane proteins; the shift from the isolated cell to the cell population/community perspective; the exploitation of molecular signalling; and the integration of mathematical models. 

The final aim is the construction of protocells that can exhibit biologically reliable and predictable behaviour, mimicking some cellular functionalities or implementing new functions that can be activated in response to an external input. In this sense, a protocell can be viewed as a soft bio-robot capable of performing computational tasks in order to solve problems that emerge in its external environment. Future applications include bio-remediation, fuel production, smart drug delivery, disease diagnosis, in situ (bio)synthesis of drugs, and collective interaction for distributed computation.  

Dr. Wen Shan Yew
Dr. Fabio Mavelli
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Cells is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • synthetic cells
  • chemical signaling
  • trans-membrane protein reconstitution
  • microfluidics
  • giant lipid vesicles

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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