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:

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.


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)
Figure_PLOS_2 Figure_PLOS_2
All cells are surrounded by a membrane, a framework of fat-based molecules called phospholipids, which physically prevent water-loving substances from entering or escaping the cell. By using phospholipid vesicles to mimic the cell membrane and a purified gene expression system as the protein factory to generate specialized enzymes, we have reconstructed in vitro the key biochemical steps to synthesize phospholipids from a DNA program and simple precursors. This work represents a milestone toward the creation of an autonomous synthetic cell capable to produce its own membrane constituents.

Alicia and Pauline in action…