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Tailoring the appearance: what will synthetic cells look like?
- Spoelstra, Willem Kasper, Deshpande, Siddharth, Dekker, Cees
- Current opinion in biotechnology 2018 v.51 pp. 47-56
- artificial cells, droplets, drug delivery systems, emulsions, fatty acids
- Recently, the bottom-up assembly of a synthetic cell has emerged as a daring novel approach that can be expected to have major impact in generating fundamental insight in the organization and function of actual biological cells, as well as in stimulating a broad range of applications from drug delivery systems to chemical nanofactories. A crucial feature of any such synthetic cell is the architectural scaffold that defines its identity, compartmentalizes its inner content, and serves as a protective and selective barrier against its environment. Here we review a variety of potential scaffolds for building a synthetic cell. We categorize them as membranous structures (liposomes, fatty acid vesicles, polymersomes), emulsions (droplets and colloidosomes), and membrane-less coacervates. We discuss recent advances for each of them, and explore their salient features as candidates for designing synthetic cells.