Engineers trying to harness photosynthesis to perform metabolic reactions

To build up an artificial cell, there are two-way outs. The first approach involves re-engineering the genomic software of living cell while the second approach involves cellular hardware, producing simple cell-like structures above the ground that imitates the function of the living cells. One of the most challenging situations pertaining to the second approach is intimating the intricate chemical as well as the biological reactions needed for the cells to undergo complex behavior.

In this situation, an international group of researchers belonging from Harvard University and Sogang University located in Seoul have identified a cell-like structure that processes for photosynthesis in order to perform metabolic reactions which also involve metabolic reactions such as energy harvesting, carbon fixation as well as cytoskeleton formation. This particular research is being published in Nature Biotechnology. 

According to Kit Parker who is the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering as well as Applied Physics at the Harvard John A Paulson school of Engineering and Applied Sciences and also a co-principal investigator of the project said that this particular research is a part of the deep collaboration between Harvard and the Sogang University and has opened up several ways regarding what could be done on the cellular level. Kit further added that they had activated metabolic activity with light which is built an on-demand protein network that is found within a cell with packaging all the components that is needed to do this into one cell. Parker is also a vital member of the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering as well as the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

As per the statement given by Kwanwoo Shin who is the Director of the Institute of Biological Interfaces and also a Professor in the Chemistry Department at the Sogang University said that the mechanisms that they have set up would be the first step in the development of multiple regulatory networks in terms of the artificial cells that can showcase the homeostasis and complex cellular behaviour.

To execute this synthetic system, the scientists developed a photosynthetic organelle from the special components of the plant as well as the animal world. The photoconverters are very much responsive to the various wavelength of light: the first one is red, and the next one is green. The proteins were found within a pure lipid membrane, and also traces of enzymes were found that generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which are the essential energy carriers of cells.