Parasites, Infections, and Inoculation in Synthetic Minimal Cells

Brock W Cash, Nathaniel J Gaut, Christopher R Deich, Laura L. Johnson, Aaron E. Engelhart, Katarzyna P. Adamala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Synthetic minimal cells provide a controllable and engineerable model for biological processes. While much simpler than any live natural cell, synthetic cells offer a chassis for investigating the chemical foundations of key biological processes. Herein, we show a synthetic cell system with host cells, interacting with parasites and undergoing infections of varying severity. We demonstrate how the host can be engineered to resist infection, we investigate the metabolic cost of carrying resistance, and we show an inoculation that immunizes the host against pathogens. Our work expands the synthetic cell engineering toolbox by demonstrating host-pathogen interactions and mechanisms for acquiring immunity. This brings synthetic cell systems one step closer to providing a comprehensive model of complex, natural life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7045-7056
Number of pages12
JournalACS Omega
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 21 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to Thrasyvoulos Karydis for discussions on restriction enzyme activity in cell-free systems, which gave rise to ideas fundamental to conceiving this project. This work was supported by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant G-2022–19420, NSF award 1844313 RoL: RAISE: DESYN-C3: Engineering multi-compartmentalized synthetic minimal cells, NSF award 1840301 RoL:FELS:RAISE: Building and Modeling Synthetic Bacterial Cells, NSF award 2123465 Synthetic P-bodies: Coupling gene expression and ribonucleoprotein granules in synthetic cell vesicles for sensing and response, generous gift from Jeremy Wertheimer, and Hackett Royalty Fund award.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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