An international team of researchers has engineered a cell-like structure that harnesses photosynthesis to perform metabolic reactions, including energy harvesting, carbon fixation and cytoskeleton formation. To build this synthetic system, the researchers engineered a photosynthetic organelle from the unique components of the plant and animal world. They chose two protein photoconverters -- one from plants, the other from bacteria -- which can generate a gradient across the cellular membrane to trigger reactions, according to one of the researchers. Shown here: A membrane (red outer boundary) encapsulates actin (white lines), the protein building blocks of the cytoskeleton and tissues. The actin was polymerized by coupling adenosine triphosphate synthesis with artificial organelles (green dots) inside the membrane.
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