Synthetic biology and cellular engineering require chemical and physical alterations, which are typically achieved by fusing target cells with each other or with payload-carrying vectors. On one hand, electrofusion can efficiently induce the merging of biological cells and/or synthetic analogues via the application of intense DC pulses, but it lacks selectivity and often leads to uncontrolled fusion. On the other hand, synthetic DNA-based constructs, inspired by natural fusogenic proteins, have been shown to induce a selective fusion of artificial membranes, albeit with low efficiency. Here we introduce DNA-assisted selective electrofusion (DASE) which relies on membrane-anchored DNA constructs to bring together the objects one seeks to merge, and applying an electric impulse to trigger their fusion. The DASE process combines the efficiency of standard electrofusion and the selectivity of fusogenic nanostructures, as we demonstrate by inducing and characterizing the fusion of spheroplasts derived from Escherichia coli bacteria with cargo-carrying synthetic lipid vesicles.
Supporting Information: DNA-Assisted Selective Electrofusion (DASE) of Escherichia coli and Giant Lipid Vesicles