One approach towards the creation of bottom-up synthetic biological systems of higher complexity relies on the subcompartmentalization of synthetic cell structures using artificially generated organelles — roughly mimicking the architecture of eukaryotic cells. Organelles create dedicated chemical environments for specific synthesis tasks — they separate incompatible processes from each other and help to create or maintain chemical gradients that drive other chemical processes. Artificial organelles have been used to compartmentalize enzyme reactions, to generate chemical fuels via photosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation, and they have been utilized to spatially organize cell-free gene expression reactions. In this short review article, we provide an overview of recent developments in this field, which involve a wide variety of compartmentalization strategies ranging from lipid and polymer membrane systems to membraneless compartmentalization via coacervation.

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