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Creators/Authors contains: "Adamala, Katarzyna P."

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  1. Abstract

    Small, spherical vesicles are a widely used chassis for the formation of model protocells and investigating the beginning of compartmentalized evolution. Various methods exist for their preparation, with one of the most common approaches being gentle hydration, where thin layers of lipids are hydrated with aqueous solutions and gently agitated to form vesicles. An important benefit to gentle hydration is that the method produces vesicles without introducing any organic contaminants, such as mineral oil, into the lipid bilayer. However, compared to other methods of liposome formation, gentle hydration is much less efficient at encapsulating aqueous cargo. Improving the encapsulation efficiency of gentle hydration would be of broad use for medicine, biotechnology, and protocell research. Here, we describe a method of sequentially hydrating lipid thin films to increase encapsulation efficiency. We demonstrate that sequential gentle hydration significantly improves encapsulation of water-soluble cargo compared to the traditional method, and that this improved efficiency is dependent on buffer composition. Similarly, we also demonstrate how this method can be used to increase concentrations of oleic acid, a fatty acid commonly used in origins of life research, to improve the formation of vesicles in aqueous buffer.

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  2. Abstract

    Synthetic cells are a novel class of cell-like bioreactors, offering the potential for unique advancements in synthetic biology and biomedicine. To realize the potential of those technologies, synthetic cell-based drugs need to go through the drug approval pipeline. Here, we discussed several regulatory challenges, both unique to synthetic cells, as well as challenges typical for any new biomedical technology. Overcoming those difficulties could bring transformative therapies to the market and will create a path to the development and approval of cutting-edge synthetic biology therapies.

    Graphical Abstract  

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  3. Abstract Background

    Efficient cell-free protein expression from linear DNA templates has remained a challenge primarily due to template degradation. In addition, the yields of transcription in cell-free systems lag behind transcriptional efficiency of live cells. Most commonly used in vitro translation systems utilize T7 RNA polymerase, which is also the enzyme included in many commercial kits.


    Here we present characterization of a variant of T7 RNA polymerase promoter that acts to significantly increase the yields of gene expression withinin vitrosystems. We have demonstrated that T7Max increases the yield of translation in many types of commonly used in vitro protein expression systems. We also demonstrated increased protein expression yields from linear templates, allowing the use of T7Max driven expression from linear templates.


    The modified promoter, termed T7Max, recruits standard T7 RNA polymerase, so no protein engineering is needed to take advantage of this method. This technique could be used with any T7 RNA polymerase- basedin vitroprotein expression system.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. Recently, a new subset of fluorescent proteins has been identified from the Aequorea species of jellyfish. These fluorescent proteins were characterized in vivo; however, there has not been validation of these proteins within cell-free systems. Cell-free systems and technology development is a rapidly expanding field, encompassing foundational research, synthetic cells, bioengineering, biomanufacturing, and drug development. Cell-free systems rely heavily on fluorescent proteins as reporters. Here we characterize and validate this new set of Aequorea proteins for use in a variety of cell-free and synthetic cell expression platforms. 
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  5. As the centerpiece of the biomass production process, ribosome activity is highly coordinated with environmental cues. Findings revealing ribosome subgroups responsive to adverse conditions suggest this tight coordination may be grounded in the induction of variant ribosome compositions and the differential translation outcomes they might produce. In this perspective, we go through the literature linking ribosome heterogeneity to plants’ abiotic stress response. Once unraveled, this crosstalk may serve as the foundation of novel strategies to custom cultivars tolerant to challenging environments without the yield penalty. 
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  6. Abstract

    Luciferases are often used as a sensitive, versatile reporter in cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) systems, for research and practical applications such as engineering genetic parts, validating genetic circuits, and biosensor outputs. Currently, only two luciferases (Firefly and Renilla) are commonly used without substrate cross-talk. Here we demonstrate the expansion of the cell-free luciferase reporter system, with two orthogonal luciferase reporters:N. nambiluciferase (Luz) and LuxAB. These luciferases do not have cross-reactivity with the Firefly and Renilla substrates. We also demonstrate a substrate regeneration pathway for one of the new luciferases, enabling long-term time courses of protein expression monitoring in the cell-free system. Furthermore, we reduced the number of genes required in TXTL expression, by engineering a cell extract containing part of the luciferase enzymes. Our findings lead to an expanded platform with multiple orthogonal luminescence translation readouts for in vitro protein expression.

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  7. Biochemical specificity is critical in enzyme function, evolution, and engineering. Here we employ an established kinetic model to dissect the effects of reactant geometry and diffusion on product formation speed and accuracy in the presence of cognate (correct) and near-cognate (incorrect) substrates. Using this steady-state model for spherical geometries, we find that, for distinct kinetic regimes, the speed and accuracy of the reactions are optimized on different regions of the geometric landscape. From this model we deduce that accuracy can be strongly dependent on reactant geometric properties even for chemically limited reactions. Notably, substrates with a specific geometry and reactivity can be discriminated by the enzyme with higher efficacy than others through purely diffusive effects. For similar cognate and near-cognate substrate geometries (as is the case for polymerases or the ribosome), we observe that speed and accuracy are maximized in opposing regions of the geometric landscape. We also show that, in relevant environments, diffusive effects on accuracy can be substantial even far from extreme kinetic conditions. Finally, we find how reactant chemical discrimination and diffusion can be related to simultaneously optimize steady-state flux and accuracy. These results highlight how diffusion and geometry can be employed to enhance reaction speed and discrimination, and similarly how they impose fundamental restraints on these quantities. 
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  8. Abstract

    Synthetic cells are engineered vesicles that can mimic one or more salient features of life. These features include directed localization, sense‐and‐respond behavior, gene expression, metabolism, and high stability. In nanomedicine, many of these features are desirable capabilities of drug delivery vehicles but are difficult to engineer. In this focus article, we discuss where synthetic cells offer unique advantages over nanoparticle and living cell therapies. We review progress in the engineering of the above life‐like behaviors and how they are deployed in nanomedicine. Finally, we assess key challenges synthetic cells face before being deployed as drugs and suggest ways to overcome these challenges.

    This article is categorized under:

    Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Emerging Technologies

    Biology‐Inspired Nanomaterials > Lipid‐Based Structures

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  9. Perez-Fernandez, Jorge (Ed.)

    Cell-free protein expression is increasingly becoming popular for biotechnology, biomedical and research applications. Among cell-free systems, the most popular one is based onEscherichia coli(E.coli). Endogenous nucleases inE.colicell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) degrade the free ends of DNA, resulting in inefficient protein expression from linear DNA templates. RecBCD is a nuclease complex that plays a major role in nuclease activity inE.coli, with the RecB subunit possessing the actual nuclease activity. We created aRecBknockout of anE.colistrain optimized for cell-free expression. We named this new strain Akaby. We demonstrated that Akaby TXTL successfully reduced linear DNA degradations, rescuing the protein expression efficiency from the linear DNA templates. The practicality of Akaby for TXTL is an efficient, simple alternative for linear template expression in cell-free reactions. We also use this work as a model protocol for modifying the TXTL sourceE.colistrain, enabling the creation of TXTL systems with other custom modifications.

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