Danelon Lab

Welcome to the Christophe Danelon group in the Department of Bionanoscience at the Kavli Institute of NanoScience at Delft University of Technology.

Our group is engaged in the long-term effort to construct a minimal cell using a bottom-up approach. The core architecture of our minimal cell model consists of a cell-free gene expression system encapsulated inside a semi-permeable lipid vesicle (liposome) compartment. Using in vesiculo synthesis of proteins from DNA templates, we aim to reconstitute four essential cellular modules:

Want to know more about our Minimal Cell project? Watch this video by Alicia and Jonas (YouTube).

Besides, we are trying to exploit the potential of genetically controlled liposome bioreactors as therapeutic nanofactories for targeted drug delivery purposes. Our lab is also interested in developing RNA protocell models based on fatty acid vesicles and catalytic RNAs called ribozymes. We are using multidisciplinary approaches including synthetic and molecular biology, computational modelling and advanced fluorescence microscopy.


Self-replication of DNA by its encoded proteins in liposome-based synthetic cells
Pauline van Nies, Ilja Westerlaken, Duco Blanken, Margarita Salas, Mario Mencia and Christophe Danelon
Nature Communications 2018 (link).
The central dogma of biology was formulated in the 1950’s and describes the flow of genetic information as a universal property of living cells. In this report, we reconstructed DNA replication, transcription and translation, the three pillars of the central dogma, inside synthetic liposome compartments. Figure legend: Fluorescence confocal image of micrometer-sized phospholipid vesicles, called liposomes. Red channel, membrane dye; Green channel, DNA dye. DNA amplification is visualized as bright green spots in the lumen of liposomes.
Read also the article on TU Delft’s News.
Cell-free phospholipid biosynthesis by gene-encoded enzymes reconstituted in liposomes
Andrew Scott, Marek J. Noga, Paul de Graaf, Ilja Westerlaken, Esengul Yildirim and Christophe Danelon
PLoS One. 2016 Oct 6;11(10):e0163058. (PDF)(HTML)

Alicia and Pauline in action…