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Shape-shifting of vesicles induced by artificial tubular networks

Project description

Engineering dynamic vesicles with an artificial cytoskeleton

Vesicles are surrounded by a lipid bilayer and serve as artificial models of cell membranes. Scientists of the EU-funded SHINEShift project aim to transform vesicles into dynamic structures capable of responding to external stimuli and resisting mechanical pressure. For this purpose, they will employ synthetic chemistry to develop an artificial cytoskeleton inside vesicles that consists of peptide-based tubules. These tubules will form and grow in response to light, thereby expanding the potential applications of the engineered vesicles. Moreover, the generated methodologies have the potential to be used in other fields, such as synthetic biology and materials science.


The most commonly used artificial cell membrane models are vesicles. However, these static structures, consisting of a lipid bilayer surrounding a fluid, are poor in resisting mechanical stress. Enhancing their mechanical properties with a dynamic artificial cytoskeleton will both allow stabilizing their shape and transforming these passive objects into dynamic stimuli-responsive systems. In this MSCA project photo-responsive synthetic supramolecular tubules will be used as an artificial cytoskeleton inside vesicles. My aim is to develop stiff and at the same time responsive tubules based on cyclic peptide design that can grow and generate pushing forces during the fueling step, and disassemble when the fuel stops, both in a fully reversible manner. This cutting edge interdisciplinary project brings together several disciplines in chemistry, i.e. organic synthesis and supramolecular chemistry with colloidal chemistry (and/or microfluidics), and its scientific impact will spread through various fields – from supramolecular chemistry to material science (leap from static vesicles to dynamic ones), and synthetic biology (relevance for future applications in the field of artificial cells). My expertise as experienced researcher in the field of organic synthesis will be applied to the field of dynamic supramolecular systems based on photo-switchable compounds in which the host (Dr. Kudernac) has made notable recent progress. During this training-through-research project I will be able to learn the preparation processes for the vesicles and microscopy techniques that are fundamental for investigating (dynamic) supramolecular assemblies and which will further expand my horizontal skills. In addition, training activities during this fellowship will strongly enhance my leadership and transferable skills. Hence, the Fellowship will allow me to become a distinctive researcher in a highly competitive scientific environment.


Net EU contribution
€ 187 572,48
7522 NB Enschede

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Oost-Nederland Overijssel Twente
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 187 572,48