iGEM Thessaloniki 2018: Stable and constant protein production decoupled from gene and plasmid copy number

  iGEM Thessaloniki 2018 team

iGEM Thessaloniki 2018 team

Mankind was always interested in how life works, how life adapts, how life evolves, how life flourishes, and how life ends. Scientific and technological breakthroughs allowed organism manipulations and genetic material modification, creating “biological factories” and enabling the production of valuable biological products. Still, challenges are present, such as the sheer complexity of every living organism and the constantly changing cellular environment.

Biological systems are unpredictable, noisy, and difficult to stabilize, even under standardized conditions. Combined with the fickleness and stochasticity of gene expression, even on single cell level, the production rate of a desired protein inevitably fluctuates.

iGEM Thessaloniki aims to design a tunable synthetic biology circuit which guarantees a constant protein expression pattern. We apply control theory to design promoters which maintain constant levels of expression at any copy number. Furthermore, we introduce an element that makes our system tunable to make our system a dynamic and versatile tool with broader manufacturing and therapeutic application capabilities. Finally, we aim to apply machine learning to enable automatic tuning of gene expression depending on a case-by-case basis.

  Multiple levels of dynamic copy number control, as envisioned by iGEM Thessaloniki

Multiple levels of dynamic copy number control, as envisioned by iGEM Thessaloniki

This system will function as a foundational advance tool for both research and industry uses. Genetic engineers/synthetic biologists will have a wider choice of suitable  cloning vectors, while the conducted experiment’s accuracy will increase  significantly and inter-laboratory variations concerning experimental results will be eliminated. On industrial level, protein production will become more efficient, improving the product to cost ratio, thus maximizing profit and product quality.

Our team combines from different scientific backgrounds, such as Biology, Pharmacy, Engineering and Computer Science, our interdisciplinary team. As part of the iGEM 2018 Competition, we organize activities and workshops to communicate our project’s goals, while receiving valuable feedback from the public. Furthermore, we acknowledge the significance of bioethics and public engagement, so we recruited people specialized in fields such as anthropology and law. While we interacted with entrepreneurs, seeking funding and sponsorships, we came up with ways to integrate our project in business. We will tiresly continue our activities, talks, and other social events over the summer until late October and the Giant Jamboree. Till then, keep in touch with our team and ask us questions about the project on our social media pages!

You can read the original post on the PLOS Synbio Blog: http://blogs.plos.org/synbio/2018/07/16/igem-2018-two-synbio-teams-from-greece-are-here-to-leave-their-mark/