DNA compartments as "artificial cells" in 2D

Our approach to a minimal model of a cell is based on confining protein synthesis reactions in miniaturized 2D compartments fabricated on a silicon chip. Toward this challenging goal we first developed a unique and robust light-directed approach to immobilize DNA brushes of linear dsDNA polymers, and then studied their properties. We later embedded DNA brushes in 2D compartments, creating a source-sink scenario of gene-expression in steady-state with materials diffusing into the compartments. This enabled programmable gene-expression dynamics controlled by gene circuits and compartment lifetime, such as genetic oscillators in isolated compartments, as well as synchrony and front propagation a 1D coupled array of compartments.