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Interview: Nicola Patron on Plant Synthetic Biology, MoClo, and More

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Jun 12, 2014 11:30:00 AM

Nicola Patron is Head of Synthetic Biology at the Sainsbury Laboratory, where she often feels more like an engineer than a biologist. Their focus at the lab is on plant-pathogen interactions, and her aim is to produce constructs and edit genomes so as to make plants, and agricultural crops in particular, resistant to disease. They also devise biosensors designed to elucidate the molecular interactions that go on between plants and their pathogens.

As Patron explains it, her work has always been focused on gene transfer, from transgenes to plants, chloroplast to the nucleus, or pathogens to their hosts. I spoke with her about what motivates her research, the MoClo Kit she and Sylvestre Marillonnet share with the scientific community via Addgene, the struggles of plant scientists and how they work to overcome them, and why she spends some of her time engaging with others on Twitter, among other things.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Scientific Sharing, Synthetic Biology, Plant Biology, Plasmid Kits

Quick, Versatile Plant Transgenesis with GreenGate Plasmids

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Jan 23, 2014 10:23:00 AM

A few years ago, researchers introduced what’s been called a major breakthrough in cloning technology with the Golden Gate method. For the first time, it was possible to quickly and efficiently assemble a large number of building blocks with just two or three inexpensive enzymes. Now, a new toolkit - aptly named GreenGate – offers all of those same advantages to researchers working in plant model systems.

“The cloning is all done in vitro; it’s no different in mouse, human or plants,” explained Jan Lohmann of Heidelberg University. “What is different is the plasmids you use to bring this into your target organism. We have designed a Golden Gate system based on the daily needs of an advanced molecular plant science lab.”

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, Synthetic Biology, Plasmid Kits

The 10 Most Distributed Plasmid Technologies in Addgene's First 10 Years

Posted by Melina Fan on Jan 8, 2014 10:10:30 AM

Addgene was founded 10 years ago today. In that time, Addgene has shipped over 350,000 individual plasmids to 5,000 different research institutions. This has given us a unique window into technology trends in the life sciences.

In this post, we'll give you an inside look at the Top 10 plasmid technologies distributed through Addgene over our first 10 years.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Hot Plasmids, Scientific Sharing, Inside Addgene, Plasmid Kits

Drew Endy Introduces the Biobrick Public Agreement Plasmid Collection

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Dec 12, 2013 10:35:00 AM

Drew Endy's lab at Stanford develops engineered DNA systems capable of storing data and computing inside living cells. He's also a co-founder of the BioBricks Foundation, an organization working to advance biological engineering openly so as to benefit all people and the planet. For his many efforts in open science, Endy was recognized earlier this year by the White House as a Champion of Change, a program created as part of President Barack Obama's Winning the Future Initiative.

Endy's team made news in March with a publication in Science describing the development of “transcriptors,” transistor-like digital genetic switches that enable cellular computing. These logic gates built from transcriptors are now available at Addgene through the Biobrick Public Agreement (BPA) Plasmid Collection along with a BIOFAB kit comprised of well-characterized bacterial transcription and translation initiation elements.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Interview, Investigator Feature, Synthetic Biology, Plasmid Kits

Kiran Musunuru on the Newest TALEN Genome-Editing System

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Dec 10, 2013 10:13:00 AM

The goal of Kiran Musunuru's lab in Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology is to understand the basis for cardiovascular and metabolic human diseases. They do that by studying patients to uncover new gene variants associated with conditions of interest, then studying those variants in model systems: either human cells or mice.

In a recent issue of Cell Stem Cell, Musunuru, Chad Cowan and their colleagues describe a much more efficient tool for doing that disease modeling work in human pluripotent stem cells: a transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) kit consisting of 834 plasmids. The researchers showed they could use their TALEN kit to quickly and efficiently generate human stem cells edited to carry mutant versions of 15 different disease-associated genes.

Addgene spoke to Musunuru about how the new kit works, the research the kit now makes possible, and how it compares to his CRISPR/Cas9 system.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, Interview, Investigator Feature, Plasmid Kits

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