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Biological membranes are the lipid bilayers made of different types of lipids, including a majority of phospholipids, and with some amount of glycolipids and sterols and membrane proteins. Biological membranes are present in the cell of every living organism where they act as a barrier to separate cellular environment from the external environment.
Researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego and BioCircuits Institute have now successfully created an artificial biological cell membrane that is capable of continuous growth in the same way as in the living cell.
Neal Devaraj, a team leader of the research said that though the membrane was completely synthetic, it has several features such as the ability to adapt the composition in response to the environmental signal and the ability to continually synthesize all the components required to form an additional catalytic membrane.
Several other scientists have used the ability of the lipids to self-assemble into the vesicles of the lipid bilayer, but they were unable to create the membrane with the ability to form a phospholipid membrane.
Researchers said they used a single autocatalyst to develop a growing membrane in which the autocatalyst substitutes the complex network of biochemical pathways that drive membrane growth. Therefore, these membranes are capable of self-formation using simple and high-energy building blocks.
Devaraj said that synthetic cell membranes will provide an important tool for the synthetic biology and origin of life studies. The result has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America