Living cells harvest energy from their environments to drive the chemical processes that enable life. We introduce a minimal system that operates at similar protein concentrations, metabolic densities, and length scales as living cells. This approach takes advantage of the tendency of phase-separated protein droplets to strongly partition enzymes, while presenting minimal barriers to transport of small molecules across their interface. By dispersing these microreactors in a reservoir of substrate-loaded buffer, we achieve steady states at metabolic densities that match those of the hungriest microorganisms. We further demonstrate the formation of steady pH gradients, capable of driving microscopic flows. Our approach enables the investigation of the function of diverse enzymes in environments that mimic cytoplasm, and provides a flexible platform for studying the collective behavior of matter driven far from equilibrium.Living cells can harvest environmental energy to drive chemical processes. Here the authors design a minimal artificial system that achieves steady states at similar metabolic densities to microorganisms.

Sustained enzymatic activity and flow in crowded protein droplets

Dindo, Mirco;
2021

Abstract

Living cells harvest energy from their environments to drive the chemical processes that enable life. We introduce a minimal system that operates at similar protein concentrations, metabolic densities, and length scales as living cells. This approach takes advantage of the tendency of phase-separated protein droplets to strongly partition enzymes, while presenting minimal barriers to transport of small molecules across their interface. By dispersing these microreactors in a reservoir of substrate-loaded buffer, we achieve steady states at metabolic densities that match those of the hungriest microorganisms. We further demonstrate the formation of steady pH gradients, capable of driving microscopic flows. Our approach enables the investigation of the function of diverse enzymes in environments that mimic cytoplasm, and provides a flexible platform for studying the collective behavior of matter driven far from equilibrium.Living cells can harvest environmental energy to drive chemical processes. Here the authors design a minimal artificial system that achieves steady states at similar metabolic densities to microorganisms.
2021
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11391/1535993
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