Programmable synthetic cell networks regulated by tuneable reaction rates

Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 6;13(1):3885. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31471-5.


Coupled compartmentalised information processing and communication via molecular diffusion underpin network based population dynamics as observed in biological systems. Understanding how both compartmentalisation and communication can regulate information processes is key to rational design and control of compartmentalised reaction networks. Here, we integrate PEN DNA reactions into semi-permeable proteinosomes and characterise the effect of compartmentalisation on autocatalytic PEN DNA reactions. We observe unique behaviours in the compartmentalised systems which are not accessible under bulk conditions; for example, rates of reaction increase by an order of magnitude and reaction kinetics are more readily tuneable by enzyme concentrations in proteinosomes compared to buffer solution. We exploit these properties to regulate the reaction kinetics in two node compartmentalised reaction networks comprised of linear and autocatalytic reactions which we establish by bottom-up synthetic biology approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Cells*
  • DNA
  • Kinetics
  • Synthetic Biology


  • DNA