On March 12th the Wageningen Centre for Systems Biology (WCSB) will organise a seminar on systems biology. The seminar is free, will take an hour and will be followed by drinks. No registration is necessary, so feel free to come by!
Dr. Farren Isaacs, assistant professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Systems Biology, Yale University USA
"Genome Engineering Technologies for Rapid Editing & Evolution of Organisms"
A defining cellular engineering challenge is the development of high-throughput and automated methodologies for precise manipulation of genomes. To address these challenges, we develop technologies for versatile genome modification and evolution of cells.
Multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE) simultaneously targets many locations on the chromosome for modification in a single cell or across a population of cells, thus producing combinatorial genomic diversity. Conjugative assembly genome engineering (CAGE) facilitates the large-scale assembly of many modified genomes. Our methods treat the chromosome as both an editable and evolvable template and are capable of fundamentally re-engineering genomes from the nucleotide to the megabase scale. I will present one application of MAGE to generate combinatorial genomic variants from a complex pool of synthetic DNA to diversify target genes in order to optimize biosynthetic pathways. Then, I will also describe the integration of MAGE and CAGE to construct Genomically Recoded Organisms (GROs), replacing all 321 UAG stop codons with the synonymous UAA stop codon in E. coli. This GRO exhibited improved properties for incorporation of nonstandard amino acids that expand the chemical diversity of proteins in vivo and demonstrated increased resistance to T7 bacteriophage, demonstrating that new genetic codes could enable increased viral resistance. Finally, I will describe the engineering of the GRO to depend on synthetic amino acids aimed at construction of safe GMOs unable to grow in the wild. This work increases the toolbox for genomic and cellular engineering with the goal of expanding the functional repertoire of organisms.
Farren Isaacs is assistant professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Systems Biology at Yale University. He received a B.S.E in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering-Bioinformatics at Boston University, where he pioneered the development of synthetic RNA molecules capable of probing and programming cellular function. As a research fellow in genetics at Harvard, he invented enabling technologies for genome engineering. His research is focused on finding ways to construct new genetic codes and reprogrammable cells that serve as factories for chemical, drug and biofuel production. These innovations resulted in the formation of enEvolv, a genome engineering start-up. He has been named a “rising young star of science” by Genome Technology Magazine, a Beckman Young Investigator by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and recipient of a Young Professor award from DuPont. More information can be found here.
More information about WCSB and the 14 different projects can be found on the website www.wur.nl/systemsbiology.