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Pubmed ID :28798300
Publication Date : 2017/08/11

Autonomous model protocell division driven by molecular replication.


The coupling of compartmentalisation with molecular replication is thought to be crucial for the emergence of the first evolvable chemical systems. Minimal artificial replicators have been designed based on molecular recognition, inspired by the template copying of DNA, but none yet have been coupled to compartmentalisation. Here, we present an oil-in-water droplet system comprising an amphiphilic imine dissolved in chloroform that catalyses its own formation by bringing together a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic precursor, which leads to repeated droplet division. We demonstrate that the presence of the amphiphilic replicator, by lowering the interfacial tension between droplets of the reaction mixture and the aqueous phase, causes them to divide. Periodic sampling by a droplet-robot demonstrates that the extent of fission is increased as the reaction progresses, producing more compartments with increased self-replication. This bridges a divide, showing how replication at the molecular level can be used to drive macroscale droplet fission.Coupling compartmentalisation and molecular replication is essential for the development of evolving chemical systems. Here the authors show an oil-in-water droplet containing a self-replicating amphiphilic imine that can undergo repeated droplet division.

Authors : Taylor J W , Eghtesadi S A , Points L J , Liu T , Cronin L ,

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