Biological and Medicinal Chemistry

Facile Formation of Giant Elastin-like Polypeptide Vesicles as Synthetic Cells



Creating a suitable compartment for synthetic cells has led the exploration of different cell chassis materials from phospholipids to polymer to protein-polymer conjugates. Currently, the majority of cell-like compartments are made of lipid molecules as the resulting membrane resembles that of a natural cell. However, cell-sized lipid vesicles are prone to physical and chemical stresses and can be unstable in hosting biochemical reactions within. Recently, peptide vesicles that are more robust and stable were developed as a new chassis material for synthetic cells. Here we demonstrate the facile and robust generation of giant peptide vesicles made of elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) by using an emulsion transfer method. We show that these peptide vesicles can stably encapsulate molecules and can host cell-free expression reactions. We also demonstrate membrane incorporation of another amphiphilic ELP into existing peptide vesicles. Since ELPs are genetically encoded, the approaches presented here provide exciting opportunities to engineer synthetic cell membranes.


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Supplementary material

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Supplementary figures ELP vesicles ChemRxiv 2021