Artificial photosynthetic cell producing energy for protein synthesis

Nat Commun. 2019 Mar 22;10(1):1325. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09147-4.


Attempts to construct an artificial cell have widened our understanding of living organisms. Many intracellular systems have been reconstructed by assembling molecules, however the mechanism to synthesize its own constituents by self-sufficient energy has to the best of our knowledge not been developed. Here, we combine a cell-free protein synthesis system and small proteoliposomes, which consist of purified ATP synthase and bacteriorhodopsin, inside a giant unilamellar vesicle to synthesize protein by the production of ATP by light. The photo-synthesized ATP is consumed as a substrate for transcription and as an energy for translation, eventually driving the synthesis of bacteriorhodopsin or constituent proteins of ATP synthase, the original essential components of the proteoliposome. The de novo photosynthesized bacteriorhodopsin and the parts of ATP synthase integrate into the artificial photosynthetic organelle and enhance its ATP photosynthetic activity through the positive feedback of the products. Our artificial photosynthetic cell system paves the way to construct an energetically independent artificial cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Artificial Cells / drug effects
  • Artificial Cells / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / radiation effects
  • Light
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Organelles / radiation effects
  • Photosynthesis* / radiation effects
  • Protein Biosynthesis* / radiation effects
  • Unilamellar Liposomes / metabolism


  • Unilamellar Liposomes
  • Adenosine Triphosphate