A microfluidic approach to synthetic cell division

Reproduction through cell division is a key signature of life. Though considerable progress has been made in identifying the key divisome components in bacteria, many open questions persist on how a cell divides and what are the essential elements required to do so.

We address this fascinating division process using a bottom-up approach. By means of microfluidics techniques, we encapsulate a minimal version of divisome protein machinery in micron-size confinements, such as water-in-oil droplets or liposomes. By studying how these proteins rearrange for different confinements, concentrations, and conditions, we aim to understand the mechanisms behind this intriguing process, in order to recreate a dividing entity with a minimal amount of components.

Ring1

Video: In bacteria FtsZ is a key protein that assembles a constrictive ring localized at the mid cell, orchestrating the process of division. In the video, an FtsZ ring is artificially reconstructed inside a small unilamellar liposome.