The Frontal Cortex

Membrane Vesicles

As heard recently on The Daily Show:

Those guys don’t know membrane vesicles from their taint.

It’s a funny line, but membrane vesicles are serious stuff. Just ask Jack Szostak:

Our goal is generate a nucleic acid system that can replicate accurately and rapidly, without any enzymatic assistance. We have already developed a membrane vesicle system that allows for the repeated growth and division of the vesicles, without the involvement of any biochemical machinery. We are just beginning to do experiments in which we combine the nucleic and membrane systems, and we can already see the beginnings of nucleic acid replication within our membrane vesicles. Once we achieve repeated cycles of replication of the combined system, we expect to see evolutionary forces come into play, leading to the spontaneous emergence of nucleic acid sequences that contribute to the fitness of the artificial cell.

In other words, membrane vesicles just might hold the key to creating a synthetic form of life.