Laboratory models of protocells with the ability to sense and respond have the potential to serve as new-generation biosensing platforms in nanobiotechnology. While building such artificial cells often requires complex genetic engineering methods, bottom-up chemical approaches remain underdeveloped. Herein we describe the chemical construction, characterization, and utilization of biomimetic lipid vesicles capable of sensing environmental cues. These bilayer vesicles make use of phospholipid-enabled activity-based sensing to respond to either a reductive (presence of hydrogen sulfide) or an oxidative (presence of hydrogen peroxide) condition by lighting up at the membrane. Vesicle structures, 7–20 µm in diameter, remain intact throughout the process and display good-to-excellent selectivity against other redox conditions. This work opens up design opportunities for synthetic protocell architectures and enables a configurable molecular platform for engineering functional soft materials.
Supplementary Information for Biomimetic Vesicles with Designer Phospholipids Can Sense Environmental Redox Cues