A synthetic out-of-equilibrium morphogenic system

Philippe I. H. Bastiaens

Department of Systemic Cell Biology, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology, 44227 Dortmund, Germany

We reconstituted a Synthetic Morphogenic System (SynMS) by encapsulating a dynamic cytoskeletal microtubule (MT)-aster together with a light-actuated signaling system in a liposome with a deformable membrane. SynMS responds to light with self-organized morphological state transitions that manifest as self-amplifying membrane deformations generated by the MT-aster recursively interacting with the signaling system. We demonstrate that the perception and response to external light pattern stimuli are shaped by prior exposures and the ensuing morphological states. The interdependence between cytoskeletal dynamics, membrane shape, and signaling thus generated a minimal out-of-equilibrium ‘life-like’ system that mimics context dependent morphological responses of cells to external cues.

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