Chemical reactions controlled through compartmentalization: Applications to bottom-up design of synthetic life.

Authors Sudarshana Laha
University Technische Universit├Ąt Dresden
Examination Date 2023-06-28
Open Access true
Print Publication Date 2023-06-28
Online Publication Date 2023-06-28
Abstract Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) has been proposed as the underlying physical principle leading to the formation of membrane-less organelles in eukaryotic cells, following advancements, in the last two decades, in experimental observations owing to progress in confocal microscopy. These organelles can act as compartments in sequestering molecules and tuning rates of biochemical reactions, among a repertoire of functions they serve. Biochemical reactions are constantly in progress in living cells and are driven out of equilibrium due to fuel consumption in the form of ATP or GTP molecules. Free diffusion of reactive molecules through these compartments leads to their spatiotemporal sequestration and automatically implies an interplay between phase separation and chemical reactions. In this work, we are specifically interested to understand how the two processes closely affect each other and applying the understanding to tune better bottom-up design principles for synthetic life, which involves coupling compartmentalization and chemical reactions. The first part of this work is devoted to studying the interplay between phase separation and chemical reactions. To this end, we developed the theory of mass action kinetics of equilibrium and out-of-equilibrium processes occurring at phase equilibrium in a multicomponent mixture. Phase equilibrium is imposed at all times, thus restricting the chemical kinetics to the binodal manifold. We learn more about circumstances in which reaction rates can differ in coexisting phases. Next, we decouple the phase-forming components (scaffolds) and the dilute reactive components (clients), which means that the reactive dilute components respond to the heterogeneous profile in the system set by the scaffold but do not affect it. This allows us to investigate to what extent compartments can affect chemical reactions in terms of their yield at steady state for a bimolecular reaction or initial reaction rate for a nucleation process compared to the absence of compartments. We use the effective droplet model and mass reaction kinetics at phase equilibrium to address the above questions. We can understand better how the properties of reactions can be optimally tuned by compartment size. Following the theoretical developments in the first part of this work, we proceed to use the theoretical model of mass action kinetics at phase equilibrium to study emergent properties of parasitic behavior in a system composed of multiple fuel-driven reaction cycles, which lead to the formation of so-called 'building blocks' which can phase separate. This study also helps us probe the buffering capacity of phase separation. It further provides insights into how the lifetime of reactive 'building blocks' can be tuned via phase separation. Synthetic cells are generally realized by localizing minimalistic reactions in micron-scale water-filled environments, thus mimicking compartmentalization. Here we apply our model to understand how the localization of an autocatalytic process (PEN-DNA reaction) inside proteinosomes affect the reaction rates compared to the reactions in a homogeneous buffer solution. To summarize, we developed theoretical approaches to study the interplay of chemical reactions with compartmentalization and apply such approaches to systems chemistry and synthetic biology experimental studies to unravel how reactions can be controlled through compartmentalization.
Cover Image
Affiliated With CSBD, Weber
Selected By
Acknowledged Services
Publication Status Published
Edoc Link
Sfx Link
PubMed ID
WebOfScience Link
Alternative Full Text URL
Display Publisher Download Only false
Visible On MPI-CBG Website true
PDF Downloadable true
Created By thuem
Added Date 2023-08-04
Last Edited By thuem
Last Edited Date 2023-08-04 13:52:05.128
Library ID 8590
Document ID
Entry Complete true
eDoc Compliant true
Include in Edoc Report false
In Pure false
Ready for eDoc Export false
Author Affiliations Complete false
Project Name
Project URL
Grant ID
Funding Programme
Funding Organisation