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The Biology covers the study of all the living beings and their interactions into the biosphere
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One of the distinguishing features of life is that cells are made of organic compounds and large molecules constructed from simple organic compounds. Up to the early 19th century, scientists thought only living organisms could make organic compounds. Organic compounds are all built from carbon atoms, but not all molecules containing carbon are organic. So how do we recognize organic molecules?
The modern world has witnessed many scientific discoveries leading to advanced technologies and innovations in the service of humankind. Over the years, remarkable progress has been made in science, engineering and technology related to the living world, thereby unlocking many biological secrets. However, a frequently asked question concerns how life originated on the Earth or elsewhere () from inanimate molecules. It is commonly thought that certain non-living molecules spontaneously assemble into unique structures capable of acquiring the complexity and specificity observed in living cells. Cellular complexity enormously increases from bacteria to mammals and from single-celled to multicellular organisms. Cell biotechnologists have long been striving to emulate nature in designing a living cell starting with simple non-living chemical entities in the laboratory but have remained puzzled by a host of practical hurdles.
Human Physiology - Cell structure and function - EKU
Students know most macromolecules (polysaccharides, nucleic acids, proteins, lipids) in cells and organisms are synthesized from a small collection of simple precursors.
Living cells continue to attract the attention of researchers for understanding their origin, design and function. Recent advances in molecular science, biochemical devices and computational tools have generated renewed interest in unravelling the secret of formation of living cells. It is unclear how primitive life forms originated from non-living molecules. Multi-directional approaches have yielded deeper insight into this question. From a top-down approach, a wealth of invaluable information has been obtained concerning molecular design and genome coding in many types of cells. On the other hand, assemblies of complex structures with living attributes starting from simple inanimate molecules have also been attempted. Synthetic biologists have achieved significant milestones in designing and creating a living bacterial cell by transplanting a chemically synthesized genome, but overcoming the limitations of bacterial design and constructing a minimal mammalian cell with multiple sub-cellular organelles remains a future dream. In this paper, we give a brief account of progress made and major challenges faced in designing a functional mammalian cell in the laboratory. Integration of knowledge from genome science, molecular engineering and computational technologies, in particular, shows promise. Success in designing an artificial mammalian cell would open a plethora of new opportunities for biomolecular engineering, shed light on evolution, and assist with the diagnosis and therapy of disease.
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In the past few decades, many attempts have been made by researchers all over the globe to biochemically synthesize basic components of living cells. A study by Luisi et al. of ETH, Zurich, Switzerland has shown artificial synthesis of self-replicating lipid vesicles and polymerization of amino acids into proteins on the vesicular surfaces (). Another significant result showed thermodynamically controlled peptide binding polymerization reactions on the synthesized lipid vesicles (). Furthermore, intracellular protein (ferritin) encapsulation inside lipid vesicles revealed the spontaneous formation of protein-rich vesicles (), suggesting possible accumulation of solutes inside primitive cells. These results open new pathways to synthesise some of the essential cellular biomolecules necessary for creating a synthetic cell. Hanczyc et al. from Harvard University have demonstrated the formation of lipid vesicles that can be catalyzed by encapsulated clay particles with RNA adsorbed on their surfaces (). This study demonstrated the biochemical control of the synthetic lipid vesicles. More notably, a model of a simple dividing artificial cell (protocell) having an integrated metabolic, genetic and container system was developed (). These remarkable discoveries have stimulated research for creation of a complete functional biological entity in future.
Summary and future prospects
Extensive research has enabled us to overcome some key challenges in designing a synthetic living cell. The noteworthy discovery that synthesized genetic material combined with bacteria-derived materials can produce a self-replicating cell with regeneration capacity and control over cellular mechanisms has stimulated further research in synthetic biology. However, the successful integration of synthesized cellular entities and genetic material is yet to be achieved. The combined use of tools of chemistry, nano-bioscience, and increasingly rapid computational processing has enormous potential to unravel the secret of transition between nonliving and living. Significantly, new knowledge of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells—specifically, demonstration of a normal adult skin cell being induced to become a pluripotent cell ()—brings to light the potential to design a pluripotent synthetic living mammalian cell – a truly remarkable achievement in science with huge potential as a beneficial tool for medicine. An iPS cell can be transformed into a variety of phenotypes of cells found in the body which can be persuaded to produce or utilize critical external biomolecules. So in the near future, laboratory designed functional mammalian cells will hopefully open many new vistas into molecular engineering by making nanomachines for mimicking normal living cells, understanding the refined steps of evolution of living organisms and possibly curing illnesses by designing the desired cells ready for replacement of defective/malfunctioning cells.H
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Another postulated that the first "organisms" may have been made of crystals ofclay; this was suggested to bridge the phenomenal gap between the simple inorganiccompounds found in inanimate matter and the sophisticated organic substances which composeliving cells and organisms.
However, the notion of panspermia simply pushed the entire problem oflife's origin to some unknown extraterrestrial location, and the proposal of initial"clay organisms" did not solve the problem of where and how organic moleculesoriginated.
Green chemistry for chemical synthesis
Points of discussion
The essential feature of a living cell is the formation of a localized, unique molecular assembly capable of undergoing division, replication and evolution. An intriguing question is how certain molecules assemble or associate to acquire the features of living entities. How are biomolecules, such as lipid-based membranes and segments of genetic material, synthesized and assembled in such a manner that the characteristics of life emerge? How might we achieve this process in the laboratory? The simplest strategy is to follow what is called the bottom-up approach. The essential steps are synthesizing basic building block molecules (lipids, DNA, RNA and most other proteins can all be synthesized artificially) and packaging these metabolic components inside a physical container of lipid vesicles/membranes. A designed entity with the minimum capability to function as a living cell requires meeting the criteria of regulation of chemical processes and regeneration.
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