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Recombinase-based State Machines Enable Order-dependent Logic in vivo

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jul 28, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger Nathaniel Roquet, a PhD student in the Harvard Biophysics program and researcher in the Lu Lab at MIT.

Note: The following blog post reduces the content of our paper, “Synthetic recombinase-based state machines in living cells” (1), into a more straight-forward, concise explanation of how to adapt our engineered devices, recombinase-based state machines for your own experimental needs. For more context, exposition, and detail, please refer to the paper.

Why Might One Be Interested in State Machine Technology?

Biological research has produced a massive amount of information regarding which regulatory proteins, signaling molecules, mutations, and environmental conditions drive certain cellular behaviors, but little is known about the order or timing of these factors. Recombinase-based state machines (RSMs), which take on a particular DNA-sequence configuration (state) based on the identity and order of a particular set of inputs, may be used to better understand and engineer cellular processes that are influenced by temporally ordered biochemical events.

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Topics: Genome Engineering, Synthetic Biology

Using Phosphoserine to Study Protein Phosphorylation

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jun 23, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger Natalie Niemi, a postdoctoral fellow at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, Wisconsin.

It is commonly cited that approximately one-third of cellular proteins are modified through phosphorylation (1). However, the expansion of studies on protein phosphorylation in an array of model systems coupled with advances in mass spectrometry suggest that phosphorylation is far more prevalent than previously appreciated. PhosphoSitePlus, one of the most inclusive databases of post-translational modifications, identifies a staggering ~250,000 phosphorylation events in the proteomes of higher mammals (2). How can we begin to understand the importance of any of these phosphorylation events on the activity of a given protein?

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Synthetic Biology, Lab Tips, Techniques

R Bodies: Membrane-Rupturing Microscopic Tools

Posted by Guest Blogger on Apr 14, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger Jessica Polka, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Pamela Silver. 

Most types of biological motion (whether endocytosis, vesicle trafficking, or muscle contractions) are produced by orchestrated movements of networks of proteins consuming molecular fuel sources. While the importance of understanding these complex processes can’t be overstated, we can also learn a lot from Nature’s simpler solutions to transmitting forces over long distances. For instance, how much force can be generated by conformational changes in proteins? How can information propagate through a structured material over a long distance? And can we understand such a structure well enough to engineer it to suit our purposes?

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Synthetic Biology

Teaching an Old DOG New Tricks: Controlling Protein Activity with GFP

Posted by Mary Gearing on Nov 24, 2015 10:30:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Synthetic Biology, Fluorescent Proteins, Cre-lox

Synthetic Photobiology: Optogenetics for E. coli

Posted by Mary Gearing on Sep 8, 2015 10:30:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Optogenetics, Synthetic Biology

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