Editors' ChoiceSynthetic Biology

Toward an “Artificial Cell” on a Chip

Sci. Signal.  19 Aug 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 339, pp. ec225
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005797

Cell-free systems that reconstitute biochemical pathways have been critical for unraveling the inner workings of the cell. Karzbrun et al. created a highly miniaturized cell-free system on a silicon chip. A series of tiny linked compartments were fabricated on the chip, in which DNA-driven reactions occurred, with materials flowing into and diffusing between the compartments. The system recreated oscillating protein expression patterns and protein gradients and provides a stepping-stone to creating “artificial cells” on a chip.

E. Karzbrun, A. M. Tayar, V. Noireaux, R. H. Bar-Ziv, Programmable on-chip DNA compartments as artificial cells. Science 345, 829–832 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]