Giant Polymersome Protocells Dock with Virus Particle Mimics via Multivalent Glycan-Lectin Interactions

Artur Kubilis, Ali Abdulkarim, Ahmed M. Eissa, Neil R. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the low complexity of their components, several simple physical systems, including microspheres, coacervate droplets and phospholipid membrane structures (liposomes), have been suggested as protocell models. These, however, lack key cellular characteristics, such as the ability to replicate or to dock with extracellular species. Here, we report a simple method for the de novo creation of synthetic cell mimics in the form of giant polymeric vesicles (polymersomes), which are capable of behavior approaching that of living cells. These polymersomes form by self-assembly, under electroformation conditions, of amphiphilic, glycosylated block copolymers in aqueous solution. The glycosylated exterior of the resulting polymeric giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) allows their selective interaction with carbohydrate-binding receptor-functionalized particles, in a manner reminiscent of the cell-surface docking of virus particles. We believe that this is the first example of a simple protocell model displaying cell-like behavior through a native receptor-ligand interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32414
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2016

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