(366c) Getting through the Gatekeepers: Changing the Selectivity of Semi-Permeable Cellular Membranes

Authors: 
Tullman-Ercek, D., University of California, Berkeley

The phospholipid bilayer has long been described as the cellular gatekeeper, preventing the passive transport of proteins, small molecules, and ions across cellular and organelle boundaries. It was recently discovered that some bacteria use organelle-like compartmental systems as well, contrary to the long-held belief that bacteria lack such organization, and these bacterial compartment membranes are made entirely of proteins. We explore the gatekeeping functions of each of these distinct types of membranes, studying protein and small molecule transport and sequestration in each case. Using various synthetic biology approaches, we engineer these systems in order to increase the yield of biochemical products such as butanol. Specifically, I will discuss how we can 1) sequester metabolic pathway enzymes and intermediates in the protein compartments and 2) gain control and alter the specificity of lipid membrane transporters for small molecules and proteins.