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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

IfLS Seminar: Professor Hagan Bayley, University of Oxford Event

Professor Hagan Bayley
16:00 - 18:00
5 December 2012
Lecture Theatre Room 1027 Nightingale Building (67) Highfield Campus

For more information regarding this event, please email Janette Thompson at .

Event details

"Droplet networks containing engineered protein pores"

Seminar Abstract:

Synthetic biology is being used to build devices through both top-down and bottom-up approaches.(1) For example, genome engineering has been used to reprogram cells, and DNA origami has been used to produce a variety of nanodevices. While progress has been made on the assembly of minimal cells, synthetic tissues have so far received limited attention. Here, assemblies of aqueous droplets joined by lipid bilayers are described. The droplets can communicate with each other and with the environment through engineered protein pores and, like tissues, exhibit emergent properties.

Aqueous droplets in an "oil", such as hexadecane, containing a lipid acquire a monolayer coat. When two such droplets are brought together, they become attached with a lipid bilayer at the junction.(2)  A few or many droplets can be assembled into two- and three-dimensional arrays. Engineered protein pores can be incorporated into the bilayers allowing the droplets to communicate with small diffusing molecules or through electrical signals carried by ionic currents. Droplet networks in oil drops can be constructed that exist in an aqueous environment. (3)

To mimic tissues, droplet networks should be endowed with various properties including the ability to store and use energy, to move and change shape, to detect signals, to carry out computations and take up and release molecules. At a certain level all of these goals have been achieved.(2),(4), (5)

The functional droplet networks described here are a step towards the production of tissue-like material. It might be possible to interface droplet networks with living tissues or with electronics.


1 D.N. Woolfson and E.H.C. Bromley, The Biochemist, 2011, February, 19.
2 M.A. Holden, D. Needham, and H. Bayley, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2007, 129, 8650.
3 G. Villar, A. Heron, and H. Bayley, Nature Nanotechnology 2011, 6, 803.
4 H. Bayley, B. Cronin, A. Heron et al., Mol. BioSystems, 2008, 4, 1191.
5 G. Maglia, A. J. Heron, W. L. Hwang et al., Nature Nanotechnology 2009, 4, 437.


***Registration is not necessary - all welcome ***

*** Refreshments will be available after the seminar ***

Spherical aggregate of aqueous droplets
Image provided by Prof Bayley

Speaker information

Professor Hagan Bayley,University of Oxford, is the Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford. He enjoys working at the interface of chemistry and biology by, for example, developing techniques for protein modification that have applications in both basic science and biotechnology.

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