A giant step towards artificial life?

Trends Biotechnol. 2005 Jul;23(7):336-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2005.05.008.


Step by step, the components of an artificial form of cellular life are being assembled by researchers. Lipid vesicles the size of small bacteria can be prepared and under certain conditions are able to grow and divide, then grow again. Polymerase enzymes encapsulated in the vesicles can synthesize RNA from externally added substrates. Most recently, the entire translation apparatus, including ribosomes, has been captured in vesicles. Substantial amounts of proteins were produced, including green fluorescent protein used as a marker for protein synthesis. Can we now assemble a living cell? Not quite yet because no one has produced a polymerase that can be reproduced along with growth of the other molecular components required by life. But we are closer than ever before.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Life*
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Organelle Biogenesis
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Ribosomes / genetics
  • Ribosomes / metabolism


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases