Simple Method for the Creation of a Bacteria-Sized Unilamellar Liposome with Different Proteins Localized to the Respective Sides of the Membrane

ACS Synth Biol. 2023 May 19;12(5):1437-1446. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.2c00564. Epub 2023 May 8.


Artificial cells are membrane vesicles mimicking cellular functions. To date, giant unilamellar vesicles made from a single lipid membrane with a diameter of 10 μm or more have been used to create artificial cells. However, the creation of artificial cells that mimic the membrane structure and size of bacteria has been limited due to technical restrictions of conventional liposome preparation methods. Here, we created bacteria-sized large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) with proteins localized asymmetrically to the lipid bilayer. Liposomes containing benzylguanine-modified phospholipids were prepared by combining the conventional water-in-oil emulsion method and the extruder method, and green fluorescent protein fused with SNAP-tag was localized to the inner leaflet of the lipid bilayer. Biotinylated lipid molecules were then inserted externally, and the outer leaflet was modified with streptavidin. The resulting liposomes had a size distribution in the range of 500-2000 nm with a peak at 841 nm (the coefficient of variation was 10.3%), which was similar to that of spherical bacterial cells. Fluorescence microscopy, quantitative evaluation using flow cytometry, and western blotting proved the intended localization of different proteins on the lipid membrane. Cryogenic electron microscopy and quantitative evaluation by α-hemolysin insertion revealed that most of the created liposomes were unilamellar. Our simple method for the preparation of bacteria-sized LUVs with asymmetrically localized proteins will contribute to the creation of artificial bacterial cells for investigating functions and the significance of their surface structure and size.

Keywords: artificial cell; bacteria; bottom-up synthetic biology; liposome; membrane structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Liposomes* / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Phospholipids
  • Unilamellar Liposomes* / chemistry


  • Liposomes
  • Unilamellar Liposomes
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phospholipids