Self-replication of DNA by its encoded proteins in liposome-based synthetic cells

Nat Commun. 2018 Apr 20;9(1):1583. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03926-1.


Replication of DNA-encoded information and its conversion into functional proteins are universal properties of life. In an effort toward the construction of a synthetic minimal cell, we implement here the DNA replication machinery of the Φ29 virus in a cell-free gene expression system. Amplification of a linear DNA template by self-encoded, de novo synthesized Φ29 proteins is demonstrated. Complete information transfer is confirmed as the copied DNA can serve as a functional template for gene expression, which can be seen as an autocatalytic DNA replication cycle. These results show how the central dogma of molecular biology can be reconstituted and form a cycle in vitro. Finally, coupled DNA replication and gene expression is compartmentalized inside phospholipid vesicles providing the chassis for evolving functions in a prospective synthetic cell relying on the extant biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Cells / metabolism*
  • Bacillus Phages / genetics*
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Replication / genetics*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism
  • Liposomes / metabolism*


  • Liposomes
  • DNA
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase