At Addgene, we love GFP, and we’re always excited when depositors find new ways to make this workhorse protein even more useful! From FPs optimized for oxidizing environments to photoconvertible variants, it seems like GFP is always learning new things. Now, work from Connie Cepko’s lab allow researchers to activate transcription or Cre recombinase activity only in the presence of GFP. These systems, known as T-DDOG and Cre-DOG, respectively, repurpose popular GFP reporter lines for more sophisticated experimental manipulations, saving the time and money needed to develop new lines.
As optogenetics turns 10 years old, it’s easy to forget that this technique isn’t limited to neuroscience. In fact, precise light-based control of biological processes is highly useful in other fields, including synthetic biology. Addgene depositors Christopher Voigt and Jeffrey Tabor have been working on making E. coli light responsive since 2005, when Tabor was working in Voigt's lab. Years later, these classic systems continue to be optimized by Tabor’s lab, making light-controlled gene expression in E. coli easier and more robust.
Addgene’s plasmids are used with a wide variety of restriction enzyme-based cloning methods. Each method has its own pluses and minuses, but Golden Gate cloning has been especially useful within both the synthetic biology and genome engineering fields. We’ll walk you through how to apply this precise and easy-to-use system to your cloning efforts.
As Christopher Voigt explains it, his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been “working on new experimental and theoretical methods to push the scale of genetic engineering, with the ultimate objective of genome design.” It’s genetic engineering on a genomic scale, with the expectation for major advances in agriculture, materials, chemicals, and medicine.
As they’ve gone along, Voigt’s group has also been assembling the toolbox needed for anyone to begin considering genetic engineering projects in a very big way. In one of his latest papers, published in Molecular Systems Biology in November, Voigt and Alex Nielsen describe what’s possible when multi-input CRISPR/Cas genetic circuits are linked to the regulatory networks within E. coli host cells.
We talked with Voigt about this collision that’s taking place between CRISPR technology and synthetic biology, the tools he’s making available through Addgene, and where all of it is likely to lead us in the future.
This post was contributed by Adam Chin-Fatt, a Ph.D. student at the University of Western Ontario. Adam summarizes Zalatan JG, et al.'s recent paper, "Engineering Complex Synthetic Transcriptional Programs with CRISPR RNA Scaffolds." Adam has also created a video to help scientists visualize the concepts discussed in the paper.
The transcriptional control of multiple loci is deftly coordinated by the eukaryotic cell for the execution of many complex cellular behaviors, such as differentiation or metabolism. Our attempts to manipulate these cellular behaviors often fall short with the generation of various flux imbalances. The conventional approach has typically been to either systematically delete/overexpress endogenous genes or to introduce heterologous genes, but the trend of research has shifted in recent years toward tinkering with regulatory networks and multiplex gene control. However, these approaches are often met with the challenges of regulatory bottlenecks and their scope is limited by the lack of well characterized inducible promoters. Far removed from the bio-industry’s vision of ‘biofactories’, most successes in metabolic engineering have been limited to the overexpression of various metabolites in Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae with few techniques that are easily transferrable across host species or metabolic pathways. A new study takes us one step closer to the vision of metabolic biofactories by demonstrating the use of CRISPR-based RNA scaffolds to mimic natural transcriptional programs on multiple genes.