Some bacteria naturally bleb: a process whereby their outer membrane pinches in and buds off. The result of this is an outer membrane vesicle (OMV), a nanoscale lipid bubble, being released into the environment. However, when released, OMVs carry with them a cargo of proteins from the periplasmic space, and are decorated on their surface with lipid-anchored proteins from the outer-membrane.
Given this, OMVs have the potential to be tailored to a variety of functions, by using signal tags that target proteins to either the periplasm or outer membrane. Crucially, though, OMVs are non-replicative, and can thus share many of the same functions as bacteria without being able to take over the environment.
We see these traits as making OMVs a new platform technology, and it is our aim to develop OMVs a viable, well-characterised tool for future synthetic biologist to wield. Our project successfully characterised a few parts that enable OMV use, and we hope to share those with others!