DISEASE BIOPHYSICS GROUP/HARVARD UNIVERSITY Scientists have crafted a cell-like structure that can use light to synthesize a protein needed to form the skeleton of a cell. They used plant- and bacteria-derived molecules that capture light energy to initiate and control the process. Red light starts a chemical reaction inside the artificial cell that helps produce and assemble filaments of actin, while green light brings the process to a halt.
“We have activated metabolic activity with light, built an on-demand protein network in a living cell, and packaged all of the components required to do this into one cell,” says Kit Parker, a coauthor on the paper, in a statement.
K Lee et al., “Photosynthetic artificial organelles sustain and control ATP-dependent reactions in a protocellular system,” Nature Biotechnology, doi:10.1038/nbt.4140, 2018.