Autonomous model protocell division driven by molecular replication

Taylor, J.W., Eghtesadi, S.A., Points, L.J., Liu, T. and Cronin, L. (2017) Autonomous model protocell division driven by molecular replication. Nature Communications, 8, 237. (doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00177-4) (PMID:28798300) (PMCID:PMC5552811)

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Abstract

The coupling of compartmentalisation with molecular replication is thought to be crucial for the emergence of the first evolvable chemical systems. Minimal artificial replicators have been designed based on molecular recognition, inspired by the template copying of DNA, but none yet have been coupled to compartmentalisation. Here, we present an oil-in-water droplet system comprising an amphiphilic imine dissolved in chloroform that catalyses its own formation by bringing together a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic precursor, which leads to repeated droplet division. We demonstrate that the presence of the amphiphilic replicator, by lowering the interfacial tension between droplets of the reaction mixture and the aqueous phase, causes them to divide. Periodic sampling by a droplet-robot demonstrates that the extent of fission is increased as the reaction progresses, producing more compartments with increased self-replication. This bridges a divide, showing how replication at the molecular level can be used to drive macroscale droplet fission.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Taylor, Mr James Ward and Points, Mr Laurie and Cronin, Professor Leroy
Authors: Taylor, J.W., Eghtesadi, S.A., Points, L.J., Liu, T., and Cronin, L.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Nature Communications
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
ISSN (Online):2041-1723
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Nature Communications 8:237
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
503295Molecular-Metal-Oxide-nanoelectronicS (M-MOS): Achieving the Molecular LimitLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/H024107/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
562821Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC)Leroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/I033459/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
571901International Collaboration in Chemistry - Modular microtubular architectures for photo-driven water splittingLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J00135X/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
577391Programmable Molecular Metal Oxides (PMMOs) - From Fundamentals to ApplicationLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J015156/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
605821The Multi-Corder: Poly-Sensor TechnologyDavid CummingEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K021966/1ENG - ENGINEERING ELECTRONICS & NANO ENG
616021Energy and the Physical Sciences: Hydrogen Production using a Proton Electron BufferLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K023004/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
621352Synthetic Biology applications to Water Supply and RemediationSteven BeaumontEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K038885/1VPO VICE PRINCIPAL RESEARCH & ENTERPRISE
633821A Digital DNA Nano Writer (DNA NanoFab)Leroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/L015668/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
646611Programmable 'Digital' Synthesis for Discovery and Scale-up of Molecules, Clusters and NanomaterialsLeroy CroninEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/L023652/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
561223Plug'n Play Photosynthetic for Rubisco Independent FuelsLeroy CroninBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/M011267/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
630101EVOPROGLeroy CroninEuropean Commission (EC)610730CHEM - CHEMISTRY
630091EVOBLISSLeroy CroninEuropean Commission (EC)N/ACHEM - CHEMISTRY
685741SMARTPOM: Artificial-Intelligence Driven Discovery and Synthesis of Polyoxometalate ClustersLeroy CroninEuropean Research Council (ERC)670467CHEM - CHEMISTRY