Reconstituting Natural Cell Elements in Synthetic Cells

Nathaniel J. Gaut, Katarzyna P. Adamala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Building a live cell from non-living building blocks would be a fundamental breakthrough in biological sciences, and it would enable engineering new lineages of life, not directly descendant of the Last Universal Common Ancestor. Fully engineered synthetic cells will have architectures that can be radically different from the natural cells, yet most life processes reconstituted in synthetic cells so far are built from natural and biosimilar building blocks. Most natural processes have already been reconstituted in synthetic cell chassis. This paper summarizes recent advancements in using non-living building blocks to reconstitute some of the most crucial features of living systems in a fully engineerable chassis of a synthetic cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000188
JournalAdvanced Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by generous gifts from Jeremy Wertheimer, NSF CON000000070526 and John Templeton Foundation Exploring the Informational Transitions Bridging Inorganic Chemistry and Minimal Life awards.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • artificial life
  • bioengineering
  • cell-free protein expression
  • synthetic cells


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