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  1. Lipids remain one of the most enigmatic classes of biological molecules. Whereas lipids are well known to form basic units of membrane structure and energy storage, deciphering the exact roles and biological interactions of distinct lipid species has proven elusive. How these building blocks are synthesized, trafficked, and stored are also questions that require closer inspection. This tutorial review covers recent advances on the preparation, derivatization, and analysis of lipids. In particular, we describe several chemical approaches that form part of a powerful toolbox for controlling and characterizing lipid structure. We believe these tools will be helpful in numerous applications, including the study of lipid–protein interactions and the development of novel drug delivery systems.
  2. Abstract

    Biology utilizes multiple strategies, including sequestration in lipid vesicles, to raise the rate and specificity of chemical reactions through increases in effective molarity of reactants. We show that micelle-assisted reaction can facilitate native chemical ligations (NCLs) between a peptide-thioester – in which the thioester leaving group contains a lipid-like alkyl chain – and a Cys-peptide modified by a lipid-like moiety. Hydrophobic lipid modification of each peptide segment promotes the formation of mixed micelles, bringing the reacting peptides into close proximity and increasing the reaction rate. The approach enables the rapid synthesis of polypeptides using low concentrations of reactants without the need for thiol catalysts. After NCL, the lipid moiety is removed to yield an unmodified ligation product. This micelle-based methodology facilitates the generation of natural peptides, like Magainin 2, and the derivatization of the protein Ubiquitin. Formation of mixed micelles from lipid-modified reactants shows promise for accelerating chemical reactions in a traceless manner.

  3. Living cells segregate molecules and reactions in various subcellular compartments known as organelles. Spatial organization is likely essential for expanding the biochemical functions of synthetic reaction systems, including artificial cells. Many studies have attempted to mimic organelle functions using lamellar membrane-bound vesicles. However, vesicles typically suffer from highly limited transport across the membranes and an inability to mimic the dense membrane networks typically found in organelles such as the endoplasmic reticulum. Here, we describe programmable synthetic organelles based on highly stable nonlamellar sponge phase droplets that spontaneously assemble from a single-chain galactolipid and nonionic detergents. Due to their nanoporous structure, lipid sponge droplets readily exchange materials with the surrounding environment. In addition, the sponge phase contains a dense network of lipid bilayers and nanometric aqueous channels, which allows different classes of molecules to partition based on their size, polarity, and specific binding motifs. The sequestration of biologically relevant macromolecules can be programmed by the addition of suitably functionalized amphiphiles to the droplets. We demonstrate that droplets can harbor functional soluble and transmembrane proteins, allowing for the colocalization and concentration of enzymes and substrates to enhance reaction rates. Droplets protect bound proteins from proteases, and these interactions can be engineered tomore »be reversible and optically controlled. Our results show that lipid sponge droplets permit the facile integration of membrane-rich environments and self-assembling spatial organization with biochemical reaction systems.

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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 11, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 11, 2023