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Preprint Highlight: A synthetic signaling network imitating the action of immune cells in response to bacterial metabolism

    Published Online:
    new methodsnew materials

    Significance Statement

    • Synthetic cells, built using approaches from bottom-up synthetic biology, aim to mimic biological functions of their natural counterparts. However, engineering multilevel coordination of signaling networks remains challenging.

    • This study demonstrates a minimalist synthetic signaling network mimicking netosis, an innate immune system response that traps and elicits an antimicrobial response against pathogens. Modular DNA particles were activated by the pH shift induced by E. coli metabolism, generating a sticky DNA-cholesterol network that evolved over time to trap the bacteria. Then, giant unilamellar vesicles containing an antibiotic were permeabilized by the DNA particles, reducing the growth of E. coli.

    • The development of this synthetic signaling cascade has implications for artificial cells in therapeutics, biofilm research, biomaterials, and bioremediation.

    This preprint has been assigned the following badges: New Materials, New Methods.

    Read the preprint on bioRxiv (Walczak et al., 2023):


  • Walczak M, Mancini L, Xu J, Raguseo F, Kotar J, Cicuta P, Michele LD (2023). A synthetic signalling network imitating the action of immune cells in response to bacterial metabolism. bioRxiv 2023.02.02.526524; doi: Google Scholar

    Cite this Preprint Highlight: DOI:10.1091/mbc.P23-02-0005

    MBoC's Preprint Highlights are commentaries written by Early-Career Editors on recent preprints of interest. They do not constitute peer review or imply publication of the original preprint by MBoC. For more information, visit