Artificial photosynthetic cell producing energy for protein synthesis

Samuel Berhanu, Takuya Ueda*, Yutetsu Kuruma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


Attempts to construct an artificial cell have widened our understanding of living organisms. Many intracellular systems have been reconstructed by assembling molecules, however the mechanism to synthesize its own constituents by self-sufficient energy has to the best of our knowledge not been developed. Here, we combine a cell-free protein synthesis system and small proteoliposomes, which consist of purified ATP synthase and bacteriorhodopsin, inside a giant unilamellar vesicle to synthesize protein by the production of ATP by light. The photo-synthesized ATP is consumed as a substrate for transcription and as an energy for translation, eventually driving the synthesis of bacteriorhodopsin or constituent proteins of ATP synthase, the original essential components of the proteoliposome. The de novo photosynthesized bacteriorhodopsin and the parts of ATP synthase integrate into the artificial photosynthetic organelle and enhance its ATP photosynthetic activity through the positive feedback of the products. Our artificial photosynthetic cell system paves the way to construct an energetically independent artificial cell.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1325
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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