Mineral deposition within living cells relies on control over the distribution and availability of precursors as well as the location and rates of nucleation and growth. This control is provided in large part by biomolecular chelators, which bind precursors and regulate their availability, and compartmentalization within specialized mineralizing vesicles. Biomimetic mineralization in self-assembled lipid vesicles is an attractive means of studying the mineralization process, but has proven challenging due to vesicle heterogeneity in lamellarity, contents, and size across a population, difficulties encapsulating high and uniform precursor concentrations, and the need to transport reagents across an intact lipid bilayer membrane. Here, we report the use of liposome-stabilized all-aqueous emulsion droplets as simple artificial mineralizing vesicles (AMVs). These biomimetic microreactors allow the entry of precursors while retaining a protein catalyst by equilibrium partitioning between internal and external polymer-rich phases. Small molecule chelators with intermediate binding affinity were employed to control Ca2+ availability during CaCO3 mineralization, providing protection against liposome aggregation while allowing CaCO3 formation. Mineral deposition was limited to the AMV interior, due to localized production of CO32- by compartmentalized urease. Particle formation was uniform across the entire population of AMVs, with multiple submicrometer amorphous CaCO3 particles produced in each one. The all-aqueous emulsion-based approach to biomimetic giant mineral deposition vesicles introduced here should be adaptable for enzyme-catalyzed synthesis of a wide variety of materials, by varying the metal ion, enzyme, and/or chelator.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Materials Science
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces