Toward synthetic life: Biomimetic synthetic cell communication

Abbey O. Robinson, Orion M. Venero, Katarzyna P. Adamala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Engineering synthetic minimal cells provide a controllable chassis for studying the biochemical principles of natural life, increasing our understanding of complex biological processes. Recently, synthetic cell engineering has enabled communication between both natural live cells and other synthetic cells. A system such as these enable studying interactions between populations of cells, both natural and artificial, and engineering small molecule cell communication protocols for a variety of basic research and practical applications. In this review, we summarize recent progress in engineering communication between synthetic and natural cells, and we speculate about the possible future directions of this work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-173
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent opinion in chemical biology
Early online dateSep 28 2021
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A.O.R. is supported by the NIH Training for Future Biotechnology Development Training Grant 9277706 and the NSF Award 1844313. O.M.V. is supported by the NSF Award 1807461. K.P.A. is supported by the John Templeton Foundation award “Engineer synthetic cells of increased complexity and analyze properties of Boolean networks of metabolic reactions inside populations of synthetic cells.”, National Science Foundation grant 1844313 and by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration grant 80NSSC18K1139 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Artificial cells
  • Artificial life
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell-free protein expression
  • Engineering synthetic cells
  • Liposomes
  • Microfluidics
  • Synthetic cells


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