Center for Computational & Integrative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

This section is out of date and will be updated soon. In the meantime, please refer to the publication list for an overview of the current research in the lab.

Replicating Vesicles: What must be done?

  • Develop system with ion and substrate permeability and stability to Mg++
  • Understand mechanism of growth and division
  • Achieve division with less loss of contents
  • Prove 'steady state' replication

What are the key components of our cell?

  • A self replicating compartment boundary - ours will be a membrane made of simple fatty acids
  • A self-replicating genome for the transmission of heritable information - ours will be made of RNA, so our goal is to evolve and RNA molecule that is an RNA polymerase
  • Some mechanism must allow changes in the genome to confer a selective advantage on the cell as a whole. This linking function would be a lipid-synthesizing ribozyme, a structural RNA, or a direct effect of RNA replication on vesicle growth

What lipids to use?

Prebiotic:
Modern:
Compromise:
short chain saturated fatty acids?
simple isoprenoids?
phospholiipids
sterols
oleic acid

Vesicle Growth: Slow and Steady..

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Vesicle Growth: Mechanistic Questions

  • Are individual molecules or whole micelles incorporated?
  • Does lateral pressure in the outer leaflet increase?
  • Could this lead to vesicle division?
  • Do transient defects affect membrane permeability?

 

What about division?


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