Prof. dr. Bert Poolman
Volume regulation and synthetic cell
Cell volume regulation is crucial for any living cell because changes in volume determine the metabolic activity through e.g. changes in ionic strength, pH, macromolecular crowding, viscosity, and membrane tension. These physical chemical parameters influence the diffusion of molecules, interaction rates and affinities of biomolecules, folding rates, and fold stabilities in vivo. The Poolman group showed how crowding, ionic strength and steric exclusion impact the location and traffic of molecules in the cell. They have elucidated mechanisms that allow microorganisms to maintain cellular homeostasisa, including the gating of solute transportersb,c and channelsd involved in volume regulation. Another highlight is the development of fluorescence-based sensors to monitor the cytoplasmic or organellar crowdinge and ionic strength. A grand challenge in (bio)chemistry is the bottom up assembly of functional far-from-equilibrium systems, which are common in biology. One of the crucial networks controls the volume of the cell. The Poolman group has now reconstituted a pathway for sustained ATP production that maintains energy homeostasis while the load on the system is varied. The synthetic cell systems allow a further understanding of the cell volume regulatory mechanisms in a context and at a level of complexity minimally needed for life. This work furthermore forms the basis for a large national program on the construction of a synthetic cell (see figure) from molecular building blocks.
a Nature Rev Microbiol (2017); b PNAS USA (2014); c Nature Struct Mol Biol (2015); d PNAS USA (2012); e Nature Meth (2015);
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