The goal of creating a synthetic cell necessitates the development of reaction networks which will underlie all of its behaviours. Recent developments in in vitro systems, based upon both DNA and enzymes, have created networks capable of a range of behaviours e.g. information processing, adaptation and diffusive signalling. These networks are based upon reaction motifs that when combined together produce more complex behaviour. We highlight why it is inevitable that networks, based on enzymes or enzyme-like catalysts, will be required for the construction of a synthetic cell. We outline several of the challenges, including (a) timing, (b) regulation and (c) energy distribution, that must be overcome in order to transition from the simple networks we have today to much more complex networks capable of a variety of behaviours and which could find application one day within a synthetic cell.

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