Spatial organization in proteinaceous membrane-stabilized coacervate protocells

Junbo Li, Xiaoman Liu, Loai K.E.A. Abdelmohsen (Corresponding author), David S. Williams (Corresponding author), Xin Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


As a model protocell, the membrane-free coacervate microdroplet is widely utilized in functional studies to provide insights into the physicochemical properties of the cell and to engineer cytomimetic soft technologies; however, the lack of a discrete membrane contributes to its instability and limits further application. Herein, a strategy is developed to fabricate a hybrid protocell based on the self-assembly of a proteinaceous membrane at the surface of coacervate microdroplets driven by a combination of electrostatic adhesion and steric/hydrophilic surface buoyancy. The semipermeable proteinaceous membrane can enhance coacervate stability obviously without compromising sequestration behavior. Significantly, such hybrid protocells demonstrate spatial organization whereby various functional enzymes can be located in discrete regions, which facilitates an on/off modulation for a cascade enzymatic reaction along with enhanced chemical communication between subpopulations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1902893
Pages (from-to)e1902893
Number of pages9
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • coacervate
  • proteinaceous membranes
  • proteinosomes
  • protocells
  • spatial organization


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