TMCnet News

Tokyo U. scientists approach secret of life with self-replicating protocell
[September 08, 2011]

Tokyo U. scientists approach secret of life with self-replicating protocell

Sep 07, 2011 (The Yomiuri Shimbun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A group of scientists at the University of Tokyo has created a protocell capable of self-replicating, a feat that may provide clues to understanding how life was created and multiplied, according to the group.

The scientists announced their achievement Monday in the online edition of British scientific journal Nature Chemistry.

The scientists created a cell membrane measuring one-hundredth of a millimeter in diameter that formed an artificial cell containing a fluorescent protein-producing gene.

They then utilized changes in temperature and other factors to cause DNA strands in the cell to multiply. Adding cell membrane material to the cell caused it to divide, the group said.

The group determined how much DNA had been replicated by studying the amounts of luminescence generated by the artificial protocell.

Their results showed that the faster the DNA strands in a protocell multiplied, the faster that cell would divide and multiply.

Some protocells divided three to four times within 10 minutes; the multiplied DNA strands in those cells are believed to have stimulated division-triggering membranes, according to the group.

"In the creation of life, cell membranes might have been created first, with gene-like substances penetrating the membranes to cause cellular division," Tadashi Sugawara, a professor emeritus at the university, said. "In my future research, I want to create an artificial cell that continues to divide and multiply with little artificial manipulation." ___ (c)2011 The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo) Visit The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

[ Back To's Homepage ]