A prebiotic protocell model based on dynamic protein membranes accommodating anabolic reactions

Andreas Schreiber, Matthias C. Huber, Stefan M. Schiller

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Nov 09, 2018
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Received Date: 10 October 18

Phospholipid membranes are essential constituents of extant cells rendering them preferred candidates as membrane components in origin of life scenarios. These models greatly neglect stability requirements and their problematic synthetic complexity necessary to access such lipid membrane constituents under early life conditions. Here we present an alternative protocell model, based on amphiphilic protein membranes constituted of prebiotic amino acids. These self-assembled dynamic Protein Membrane Based Compartments (PMBC) are impressively stable and compatible with prevalent protocell membrane constituents. PMBCs can enclose functional proteins, undergo membrane fusion, phase separate, accommodate anabolic ligation reactions and DNA encoded synthesis of their own membrane constituents. Our findings suggest that prebiotic PMBC represent a new type of protocell as plausible ancestor of current lipid-based cells. They can be used to design simple artificial cells important for the study of structural and catalytic pathways related to the emergence of life.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.


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