Quarterly (winter, spring, summer, fall)
128 pp. per issue
7 x 10, illustrated
ISSN
1064-5462
E-ISSN
1530-9185
2014 Impact factor:
1.39

Artificial Life

Fall 2007, Vol. 13, No. 4, Pages 319-345
(doi: 10.1162/artl.2007.13.4.319)
© 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Life Cycle of a Minimal Protocell—A Dissipative Particle Dynamics Study
Article PDF (613.55 KB)
Abstract

Cross-reactions and other systematic difficulties generated by the coupling of functional chemical subsystems pose the largest challenge for assembling a viable protocell in the laboratory. Our current work seeks to identify and clarify such key issues as we represent and analyze in simulation a full implementation of a minimal protocell. Using a 3D dissipative particle dynamics simulation method, we are able to address the coupled diffusion, self-assembly, and chemical reaction processes required to model a full life cycle of a protocell composed of coupled genetic, metabolic, and container subsystems. Utilizing this minimal structural and functional representation of the constituent molecules, their interactions, and their reactions, we identify and explore the nature of the many linked processes for the full protocellular system. Obviously the simplicity of this simulation method combined with the inherent system complexity prevents us from expecting quantitative simulation predictions from these investigations. However, we report important findings on systemic processes, some previously predicted and some newly discovered, as we couple the protocellular self-assembly processes and chemical reactions.