Describe the Impossible

Cell-free systems are becoming an increasingly popular in vitro tool to study biological processes as it is accompanied by less intrinsic and extrinsic noise. Relying on fundamental concepts of synthetic biology, we apply a bottom-up forward engineering approach to create a novel cell-free system for unorthodox protein-evolution. The core of this system is cell-sized liposomes that serve as excellent artificial membrane models. By encapsulating genetic material and full in vitro protein transcription and translation systems within the liposomes, we create reliable and incredibly efficient nanofactories for the production of target proteins. Even though there are many alternative proteins that can be synthesized, our main focus is directed towards membrane proteins, which occupy approximately one third of living-cells’ genomes. Considering their significance, membrane proteins are spectacularly understudied since synthesis and thus characterization of them remain prevailing obstacles to this day. We aim to utilize liposomes as nanofactories for directed evolution of membrane proteins. Furthermore, by means of directed membrane protein-evolution, a universal exposition system will be designed in order to display any protein of interest on the surface of the liposome. This way, a system is built where a phenotype of a particular protein is expressed on the outside while containing its genotype within the liposome. To prove the concept, small antibody fragments will be displayed to create a single-chain variable fragment (scFv) library for rapid screening of any designated target.