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This article is part of the Research Topic

Synthetic Biology-Guided Metabolic Engineering

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Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. | doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00001

Gene-expressing liposomes as synthetic cells for molecular communication studies

  • 1Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy
  • 2University of Salento, Italy

The bottom-up branch of synthetic biology includes – among others – innovative studies that combine cell-free protein synthesis with liposome technology to generate cell-like systems of minimal complexity, often referred to as synthetic cells. The functions of this type of synthetic cell derive from gene expression, hence they can be programmed in a modular, progressive and customizable manner by means of ad hoc designed genetic circuits. This experimental scenario is rapidly expanding and synthetic cell research already counts numerous successes. Here we present a review focused on the exchange of chemical signals between liposome-based synthetic cells (operating by gene expression) and biological cells, as well as between two populations of synthetic cells. The review includes a short presentation of the “molecular communication technologies”, briefly discussing their promises and challenges.

Keywords: synthetic cell, bottom-up synthetic biology, molecular communication, lipid vesicles, Quorum Sensing, Liposomes, cell-free protein synthesis

Received: 30 Sep 2018; Accepted: 02 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Francesca Ceroni, Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Yo Suzuki, J. Craig Venter Institute, United States
Kerstin Göpfrich, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPIMF), Germany  

Copyright: © 2019 Rampioni, D'Angelo, Leoni and Stano. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Pasquale Stano, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy, pasquale.stano@unisalento.it