Shaping synthetic cells through cytoskeleton-condensate-membrane interactions

Ketan A. Ganar, Lawrence W. Honaker, Siddharth Deshpande*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Constructing synthetic cells is fascinating both from the standpoints of understanding cellular machinery and developing bioinspired materials for targeted applications. The ability to impart dynamic shape and structure to such rationally designed assemblies, mimicking cellular morphogenesis, is still in its early stages. In this review, we discuss the interactions between three basic molecular assemblies that have shown promise in shaping synthetic cells: deformable membranes, phase-separated condensates, and the dynamic cytoskeleton. The interplay between these components facilitates compartmentalization, force generation, and dynamic shape changes. We particularly discuss the role of condensates as a versatile intermediary to link the cytoskeleton to the membrane. We propose that hybrid systems of these components present versatile platforms toward the eventual structuring and morphogenesis of artificial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101459
JournalCurrent Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2021


  • Biomolecular condensates
  • Bottom-up biology
  • Cellular morphogenesis
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Membranes
  • Synthetic cells

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