in vitro compartmentalization (IVC) is one of those technologies that everyone knows about, talks about, but never actual does due to the rather technical difficulties in setting the system up. I was wonder if anyone not named Tawfik, Griffiths or someone who did a post-doc with them have been successful in making IVC work? Details in how stable emulsions and a homogeneous mixture of cell-free components in the droplet are made would be wonderful.

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    $\begingroup$ one of those technologies that everyone knows about. Everyone but me! Nice link, always good to learn something new. $\endgroup$ – nico Apr 11 '12 at 6:58
  • $\begingroup$ You might want to look up synthesis techniques artificial cells, like artificial red blood cells. A resource that has led me to believe this stuff isn't impossible to set up is at www.artcell.mcgill.ca $\endgroup$ – Thomas Ingalls Aug 3 '12 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ThomasIngalls, while certainly neat, the dimensions of artificial cells are completely different from the dimensions of IVC which prevents the concepts learned in this body of work from being translated to smaller emulsions. This will still be interesting reading material. $\endgroup$ – bobthejoe Aug 4 '12 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for pointing that out, it'll save me some reading, too. Sequencing technologies like 454, SOLiD, IonTorrent use emulsion PCR on a large scale. The SOLiD system even has an sample prep machine that automates the creation of these emulsions. I think these emulsions end up a bit smaller, but they're at least in the right ballpark. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Ingalls Aug 4 '12 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @ThomasIngalls i think you should expand into an answer, eh? $\endgroup$ – shigeta Oct 2 '12 at 17:12

It is actually surprisingly easy and reproducible to make emulsions with defined components. We do it routinely in our lab: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/332/6026/209.full - CBT protocols http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6079/341.full - CST protocols

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Since it has been awhile since I've asked this question, I now get the impression that certain reactions like transcription and smPCR work well. When concentrations and size become more important or translation is important things go south. $\endgroup$ – bobthejoe Jan 21 '14 at 2:28

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