Physicochemical characterization of polymer-stabilized coacervate protocells

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Abstract

The bottom-up construction of cell mimics has produced a range of membrane-bound protocells that have been endowed with functionality and biochemical processes reminiscent of living systems. The contents of these compartments, however, experience semi-dilute conditions, whereas macromolecules in the cytosol are in a protein-rich crowded environment that affects their physicochemical properties such as diffusion and catalytic activity. Recently, complex coacervates have emerged as attractive protocellular models because their condensed interior is expected to better mimic this crowding. Here, we explore some relevant physicochemical properties of a recently developed polymer-stabilized coacervate system, such as the diffusion of macromolecules in the condensed coacervate phase compared to dilute solutions, the buffering capacity of the core, the molecular organization of the polymer membrane, the permeability characteristics of this membrane to a wide range of molecules, and the behavior of a simple enzymatic reaction. In addition, either the coacervate charge or cargo charge is engineered to allow the selective loading of protein cargo into the coacervate protocells. Our in-depth characterization reveals that this polymer-stabilized coacervate protocell has many desirable properties, making it an attractive candidate for the investigation of biochemical processes in a stable, controlled, tunable, and increasingly cell-like environment.

LanguageEnglish
Pages2643-2652
JournalChemBioChem
Volume20
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

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Artificial Cells
Biochemical Phenomena
Polymers
Membranes
Macromolecules
Cytosol
Permeability
Catalyst activity
Proteins
Molecules

Cite this

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title = "Physicochemical characterization of polymer-stabilized coacervate protocells",
abstract = "The bottom-up construction of cell mimics has produced a range of membrane-bound protocells that have been endowed with functionality and biochemical processes reminiscent of living systems. The contents of these compartments, however, experience semi-dilute conditions, whereas macromolecules in the cytosol are in a protein-rich crowded environment that affects their physicochemical properties such as diffusion and catalytic activity. Recently, complex coacervates have emerged as attractive protocellular models because their condensed interior is expected to better mimic this crowding. Here, we explore some relevant physicochemical properties of a recently developed polymer-stabilized coacervate system, such as the diffusion of macromolecules in the condensed coacervate phase compared to dilute solutions, the buffering capacity of the core, the molecular organization of the polymer membrane, the permeability characteristics of this membrane to a wide range of molecules, and the behavior of a simple enzymatic reaction. In addition, either the coacervate charge or cargo charge is engineered to allow the selective loading of protein cargo into the coacervate protocells. Our in-depth characterization reveals that this polymer-stabilized coacervate protocell has many desirable properties, making it an attractive candidate for the investigation of biochemical processes in a stable, controlled, tunable, and increasingly cell-like environment.",
author = "Yewdall, {N. Amy} and Buddingh, {Bastiaan C.} and Altenburg, {Wiggert J.} and Timmermans, {Suzanne B.P.E.} and Vervoort, {Daan F.M.} and Abdelmohsen, {Loai K.E.A.} and Mason, {Alexander F.} and {van Hest}, Jan",
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pages = "2643--2652",
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AU - Yewdall,N. Amy

AU - Buddingh,Bastiaan C.

AU - Altenburg,Wiggert J.

AU - Timmermans,Suzanne B.P.E.

AU - Vervoort,Daan F.M.

AU - Abdelmohsen,Loai K.E.A.

AU - Mason,Alexander F.

AU - van Hest,Jan

N1 - © 2019 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - The bottom-up construction of cell mimics has produced a range of membrane-bound protocells that have been endowed with functionality and biochemical processes reminiscent of living systems. The contents of these compartments, however, experience semi-dilute conditions, whereas macromolecules in the cytosol are in a protein-rich crowded environment that affects their physicochemical properties such as diffusion and catalytic activity. Recently, complex coacervates have emerged as attractive protocellular models because their condensed interior is expected to better mimic this crowding. Here, we explore some relevant physicochemical properties of a recently developed polymer-stabilized coacervate system, such as the diffusion of macromolecules in the condensed coacervate phase compared to dilute solutions, the buffering capacity of the core, the molecular organization of the polymer membrane, the permeability characteristics of this membrane to a wide range of molecules, and the behavior of a simple enzymatic reaction. In addition, either the coacervate charge or cargo charge is engineered to allow the selective loading of protein cargo into the coacervate protocells. Our in-depth characterization reveals that this polymer-stabilized coacervate protocell has many desirable properties, making it an attractive candidate for the investigation of biochemical processes in a stable, controlled, tunable, and increasingly cell-like environment.

AB - The bottom-up construction of cell mimics has produced a range of membrane-bound protocells that have been endowed with functionality and biochemical processes reminiscent of living systems. The contents of these compartments, however, experience semi-dilute conditions, whereas macromolecules in the cytosol are in a protein-rich crowded environment that affects their physicochemical properties such as diffusion and catalytic activity. Recently, complex coacervates have emerged as attractive protocellular models because their condensed interior is expected to better mimic this crowding. Here, we explore some relevant physicochemical properties of a recently developed polymer-stabilized coacervate system, such as the diffusion of macromolecules in the condensed coacervate phase compared to dilute solutions, the buffering capacity of the core, the molecular organization of the polymer membrane, the permeability characteristics of this membrane to a wide range of molecules, and the behavior of a simple enzymatic reaction. In addition, either the coacervate charge or cargo charge is engineered to allow the selective loading of protein cargo into the coacervate protocells. Our in-depth characterization reveals that this polymer-stabilized coacervate protocell has many desirable properties, making it an attractive candidate for the investigation of biochemical processes in a stable, controlled, tunable, and increasingly cell-like environment.

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