Self-replicating artificial cell?

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I want to know if there had been any work being done to create an artificial cell that can self replicate.
Hi, I am an old man fascinated with quantum physics and its potential to change biology. I want to know if there had been any work being done to create an artificial cell that can self replicate.

I guess the first step is to know the exact particle-level compositions of everything in a gamete cell: membranes, DNA, ribosome, mitochondria, etc. Then, use some synthetic materials to create different molecules that are needed. Then assemble them together to create a cell that can replicate.

I was thinking, with the advent of super computers, it is nearing a reality.

I would appreciate anyone heard of any work being done like that. Thank you.
 

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berkeman
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This seems more like a biology question and not related to Quantum Physics. Should I move this thread to our Biology and Medical forum?

EDIT -- Moved to Biology.
 
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I saw this by chance a couple of days ago
 
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Ygggdrasil
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I guess the first step is to know the exact particle-level compositions of everything in a gamete cell: membranes, DNA, ribosome, mitochondria, etc. Then, use some synthetic materials to create different molecules that are needed. Then assemble them together to create a cell that can replicate.
Simply cataloging the parts that make up life is not sufficient to create life. For example, are there any major difference in composition between a body 5 sec before death vs 5 sec after death?

From a mathematical point of view, think of life as being a set of non-linear differential equations (e.g. describing metabolic reactions inside of a cell). Under certain initial conditions, you might get dynamics that tend toward a stationary equilibrium (i.e. a dead cell) versus some initial conditions that give cyclic solutions that keep moving (i.e. an alive cell). Understaning how to design life is just as much in understanding these dynamic processes as it is cataloging the parts that are needed.

I was thinking, with the advent of super computers, it is nearing a reality.
There are definitely computational efforts to model life, though researchers are still working on getting these models to work on known organisms. See this PF thread for more discussion:
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/computer-model-of-a-bacterium.622587/

I would appreciate anyone heard of any work being done like that. Thank you.

In terms of designing synthetic cell-like systems, here are some good references:
https://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/bio2.0/artificial_beginnings_understanding_the_origin/
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07289-x

In terms of exploring alternative chemistries for biomolecules, here are a few interesting PF threads on alternative DNA chemistries:
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/semi-synthetic-organism-with-an-expanded-genetic-code.933048/
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/researchers-double-the-size-of-the-dna-alphabet.966698/

Alternative approaches to creating "artificial" or "synthetic" life include efforts to code the DNA from an organism from scratch:
https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...ically-synthesized-genome.404603/post-2726519
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/bacterium-with-a-minimal-genome.863642/
 
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One interpretation of a possible, simple but functioning cell, would require a metabolism which can extract energy and materials from its environment to make its own components, eventually increasing its size until it divides (replication).
A simple model of like this could be like Gánti's chemoton:
Screen Shot 2021-05-15 at 3.49.22 PM.png

Gánti hypothesizes (or originally did) 3 auto-catalytic chemical cycles, one each for: basic metabolism, membrane molecule synthesis, and replication of its assembly instructions (like DNA or RNA).
There is no obvious (to me) need for all three cycles to be auto-catalytic at life's initiation. Seems like an auto-catalytic metabolic cycle should be able to drive the other two.

It is not clear where in this multi-step process, the threshold between living and not-yet-living is.

Test systems have been made of Amphiphile (molecules with a changed hydrophilic end and a non-charged lipophilic end) enclosed compartments containing nucleic acids. When the nucleic acids were replicated the vesicles divided. Here is a recent ref. using this approach. This seems close to the kind of approach you mentioned.
This not an artificial cell, its just a model system of a cell. It lacks the metabolism necessary to sustain itself and the ability to replicate its own assembly instructions, but it does link nucleic replication with vesicle division.
 
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