Monitoring Artificial Cell Dynamic Compartmentalisation
Greta Zubaite a, James Hindley a, Claudia Contini a d, Oscar Ces a b c, Yuval Elani a c d
a Department of Chemistry, Molecular Sciences Research Hub, Imperial College London, 82 Wood Lane, London W12 0BZ, UK
b Institute of Chemical Biology, Molecular Sciences Research Hub, Imperial College London, 82 Wood Lane, London W12 0BZ, UK
c fabriCELL, Molecular Sciences Research Hub, Imperial College London, 82 Wood Lane, London W12 0BZ, UK
d Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ, UK
Proceedings of Emerging Investigators in Microfluidics Conference (EIMC)
Online, Spain, 2021 July 20th - 21st
Organizers: Adrian Nightingale, Darius Rackus and Claire Stanley
Poster, Greta Zubaite, 038
Publication date: 5th July 2021

The development of biomimetic minimal structures built using well-characterized building blocks has led to the creation of life-like artificial cells capable of mimicking cellular processes, behaviors and architectures. However, most artificial cell biomimetic processes take place either in the artificial cell lumen or in sub-compartments dispersed in the artificial cell lumen and researchers do not have control over the spatial localization of these processes. To address this, we have created artificial cells with multicompartment assemblies that can be localized on the inner membrane or on the surface of the artificial cell. These structures can sense the chemical changes of their environment and respond to them by disassembling. This way an artificial cell can respond to chemical triggers by releasing its sub-compartment assemblies into the environment or by changing its inner sub-compartment spatial organization. These outcomes can be reversed by placing these structures into their original solutions, where sub-compartment assemblies can re-form. We aim to couple dynamic compartmentalization to an enzymatic activity, therefore mimicking organelle interplay found in biological cells. Microfluidic trapping devices are instrumental in studying these processes as multiple trapped artificial cells can be monitored at the same time. The released external sub-compartments can be transferred to a different trapping system with acceptor artificial or biological cells, this way mimicking exosome like behaviors. Our proposed system has potential applications in drug-delivery, microreactor development and for mediating cell-cell communication.

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