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Biochemical Reactions in Cytomimetic Media

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Biochemical reactions have traditionally been studied in solutions containing purified reactants, enzymes, and cofactors in dilute buffered solutions. It is now recognized that the interior of a living cell consists of a variety of microenvironments of distinct composition. Within each of these ...

Biochemical reactions have traditionally been studied in solutions containing purified reactants, enzymes, and cofactors in dilute buffered solutions. It is now recognized that the interior of a living cell consists of a variety of microenvironments of distinct composition. Within each of these microenvironments, macromolecular reactants and products may interact nonspecifically or specifically with additional constituents of the microenvironment, resulting in functionally significant differences between the rates and equilibria of a specific biochemical reaction and the same rates and equilibria measured in dilute solution.

In this Research Topic, we present the results of research aimed at investigating how specific macromolecular reactions are affected by the presence of selected elements of intracellular complexity in media of known and controllable composition. Elements of complexity include high total macromolecular concentration, spatial and compositional heterogeneity, surface adsorption, interactions between soluble macromolecules and membranes or cytoskeleton, and partitioning of macromolecules between immiscible phases. Quantitative characterization and correct interpretation of each of these influential factors are necessarily prerequisite to a correct interpretation of the results of experiments aimed at characterizing biochemical rates and equilibria within intact cells.


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