Life but not alive
Tue. January 5th, 2020, 16.00 hours (Central European Time)
– Kate Adamala, professor of genetics at the University of Minnesota.
The earliest evolution of life included a series of transition from non-living matter, through prebiotic organic synthesis and chemical evolution, towards the Last Universal Common Ancestor of all life. Our work focuses on the immediately-pre-life stage of evolution, when chemistry became biology.
We create synthetic minimal cells that exhibit some key properties of life, without being entirely alive. Those cells express proteins inside phospholipid liposomes, using cell-free protein expression systems. Thus, represent the latest stage of prebiotic evolution, after the establishment of the Central Dogma. Those cells do not exhibit active homeostasis, but they can maintain separate internal environment, they can grow, divide and evolve. The controllability and flexibility of those minimal cells allow us studying chemical processes underlying major transitions in evolution.
Synthetic minimal cells express complex genetic pathways, with membrane proteins facilitating communication with external environment. Together, this creates a comprehensive system to study the advent of cellular processes on the boundary between prebiotic and Darwinian evolution.
Join the YouTube stream: https://youtu.be/Zpt5vOBAlOs
The research of Kate Adamala on prebiotic RNA replication provided an experimental scenario for the RNA world hypothesis of the origin of life. She has worked on constructing liposome bioreactor synthetic cells.
She is a founder and steering group member of the Build-a-Cell Initiative, an international collaboration for creation of synthetic live cells. She is also co-founder of synthetic cell company Synlife.
Watch this TED lecture of Kate Adamala from 2017:
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