Bottom-up synthetic biology
The Robinson lab is embedded within the joint project MaxSynBio, sponsored by the Max Planck Society and the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The overall objective of MaxSynBio is the creation of a minimal cell from functional modules by means of a bottom-up approach to synthetic biology. The functional modules themselves being made from non-living compoments. The interdisciplinary joint research project involves 9 Max Planck Institutes in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and engineering sciences. Our group uses lipid vesicles, namely GUVs, as a means to construct artificial cell-like systems. In the same way the cell plasma membrane acts as a barrier to the outside environment, we use GUVs as compartments to encapsulate various biomolecules to enable de novo mimicry of biological processes.
Methodologies and research interests:
- Microfluidic systems: droplets, double emulsion, and vesicle traps
- GUVs: phase-transfer, electroformation, gentle hydration, asymmetric membranes, microfluidic GUVs (mGUVs)
- Single-cell analysis using microfluidics
- LUVs: extrusion
- Phase-separated lipid membranes (domains, lipid raft models)
- Advanced microscopy including confocal, FLIM, FRET, FLIM-FRET, high-speed camera, STED
- Membrane-membrane adhesion (DNA, proteins)
- Membrane proteins including pore proteins and ion channels/transporters
- Membrane fusion
T. Robinson, P. E. Verboket, K. Eyer and P. S. Dittrich. Controllable electrofusion of lipid vesicles: initiation and analysis of reactions within biomimetic containers. Lab Chip, 2014, 2852–2859.
T. Robinson, P. Valluri, G. Kennedy, A. Sardini, C. Dunsby, M. A. A. Neil, G. S. Baldwin, P. M. W. French and A. J. De Mello. Analysis of DNA binding and nucleotide flipping kinetics using two-color two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy. Anal. Chem., 2014, 86, 10732–10740.