ResearchPad - synthetic-biology-and-bioengineering https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Rapid and assured genetic engineering methods applied to <i>Acinetobacter baylyi</i> ADP1 genome streamlining]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8ac39c8d-ee13-4bb0-b3b9-5a6810ec4315 One goal of synthetic biology is to improve the efficiency and predictability of living cells by removing extraneous genes from their genomes. We demonstrate improved methods for engineering the genome of the metabolically versatile and naturally transformable bacterium Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 and apply them to a genome streamlining project. In Golden Transformation, linear DNA fragments constructed by Golden Gate Assembly are directly added to cells to create targeted deletions, edits, or additions to the chromosome. We tested the dispensability of 55 regions of the ADP1 chromosome using Golden Transformation. The 18 successful multiple-gene deletions ranged in size from 21 to 183 kb and collectively accounted for 23.4% of its genome. The success of each multiple-gene deletion attempt could only be partially predicted on the basis of an existing collection of viable ADP1 single-gene deletion strains and a new transposon insertion sequencing (Tn-Seq) dataset that we generated. We further show that ADP1’s native CRISPR/Cas locus is active and can be retargeted using Golden Transformation. We reprogrammed it to create a CRISPR-Lock, which validates that a gene has been successfully removed from the chromosome and prevents it from being reacquired. These methods can be used together to implement combinatorial routes to further genome streamlining and for more rapid and assured metabolic engineering of this versatile chassis organism.

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<![CDATA[A heterodimer of evolved designer-recombinases precisely excises a human genomic DNA locus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N9eae6558-b2b9-4bcb-8b22-ddc7c070e6bb

Abstract

Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) such as the Cre/loxP system are useful genome engineering tools that can be repurposed by altering their DNA-binding specificity. However, SSRs that delete a natural sequence from the human genome have not been reported thus far. Here, we describe the generation of an SSR system that precisely excises a 1.4 kb fragment from the human genome. Through a streamlined process of substrate-linked directed evolution we generated two separate recombinases that, when expressed together, act as a heterodimer to delete a human genomic sequence from chromosome 7. Our data indicates that designer-recombinases can be generated in a manageable timeframe for precision genome editing. A large-scale bioinformatics analysis suggests that around 13% of all human protein-coding genes could be targetable by dual designer-recombinase induced genomic deletion (dDRiGD). We propose that heterospecific designer-recombinases, which work independently of the host DNA repair machinery, represent an efficient and safe alternative to nuclease-based genome editing technologies.

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<![CDATA[A memory switch for plant synthetic biology based on the phage ϕC31 integration system]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8433dbfa-8138-42b3-b047-f5fbf7986470

Abstract

Synthetic biology has advanced from the setup of basic genetic devices to the design of increasingly complex gene circuits to provide organisms with new functions. While many bacterial, fungal and mammalian unicellular chassis have been extensively engineered, this progress has been delayed in plants due to the lack of reliable DNA parts and devices that enable precise control over these new synthetic functions. In particular, memory switches based on DNA site-specific recombination have been the tool of choice to build long-term and stable synthetic memory in other organisms, because they enable a shift between two alternative states registering the information at the DNA level. Here we report a memory switch for whole plants based on the bacteriophage ϕC31 site-specific integrase. The switch was built as a modular device made of standard DNA parts, designed to control the transcriptional state (on or off) of two genes of interest by alternative inversion of a central DNA regulatory element. The state of the switch can be externally operated by action of the ϕC31 integrase (Int), and its recombination directionality factor (RDF). The kinetics, memory, and reversibility of the switch were extensively characterized in Nicotiana benthamiana plants.

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<![CDATA[ N 1-Methylpseudouridine substitution enhances the performance of synthetic mRNA switches in cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N39b7e186-d923-481b-b72e-77a239553c64

Abstract

Synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) tools often use pseudouridine and 5-methyl cytidine as substitutions for uridine and cytidine to avoid the immune response and cytotoxicity induced by introducing mRNA into cells. However, the influence of base modifications on the functionality of the RNA tools is poorly understood. Here we show that synthetic mRNA switches containing N1-methylpseudouridine (m1Ψ) as a substitution of uridine substantially out-performed all other modified bases studied, exhibiting enhanced microRNA and protein sensitivity, better cell-type separation ability, and comparably low immune stimulation. We found that the observed phenomena stem from the high protein expression from m1Ψ containing mRNA and efficient translational repression in the presence of target microRNAs or proteins. In addition, synthetic gene circuits with m1Ψ significantly improve performance in cells. These findings indicate that synthetic mRNAs with m1Ψ modification have enormous potentials in the research and application of biofunctional RNA tools.

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<![CDATA[Controlling aggregation of cholesterol-modified DNA nanostructures]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nf18d0013-d45b-48e3-9e27-fca93318a484

Abstract

DNA nanotechnology allows for the design of programmable DNA-built nanodevices which controllably interact with biological membranes and even mimic the function of natural membrane proteins. Hydrophobic modifications, covalently linked to the DNA, are essential for targeted interfacing of DNA nanostructures with lipid membranes. However, these hydrophobic tags typically induce undesired aggregation eliminating structural control, the primary advantage of DNA nanotechnology. Here, we study the aggregation of cholesterol-modified DNA nanostructures using a combined approach of non-denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, dynamic light scattering, confocal microscopy and atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. We show that the aggregation of cholesterol-tagged ssDNA is sequence-dependent, while for assembled DNA constructs, the number and position of the cholesterol tags are the dominating factors. Molecular dynamics simulations of cholesterol-modified ssDNA reveal that the nucleotides wrap around the hydrophobic moiety, shielding it from the environment. Utilizing this behavior, we demonstrate experimentally that the aggregation of cholesterol-modified DNA nanostructures can be controlled by the length of ssDNA overhangs positioned adjacent to the cholesterol. Our easy-to-implement method for tuning cholesterol-mediated aggregation allows for increased control and a closer structure–function relationship of membrane-interfacing DNA constructs — a fundamental prerequisite for employing DNA nanodevices in research and biomedicine.

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<![CDATA[Control of ϕC31 integrase-mediated site-specific recombination by protein trans-splicing]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N660e73bb-b72b-4569-a92d-fa929f1e3c6d

Abstract

Serine integrases are emerging as core tools in synthetic biology and have applications in biotechnology and genome engineering. We have designed a split-intein serine integrase-based system with potential for regulation of site-specific recombination events at the protein level in vivo. The ϕC31 integrase was split into two extein domains, and intein sequences (Npu DnaEN and Ssp DnaEC) were attached to the two termini to be fused. Expression of these two components followed by post-translational protein trans-splicing in Escherichia coli generated a fully functional ϕC31 integrase. We showed that protein splicing is necessary for recombination activity; deletion of intein domains or mutation of key intein residues inactivated recombination. We used an invertible promoter reporter system to demonstrate a potential application of the split intein-regulated site-specific recombination system in building reversible genetic switches. We used the same split inteins to control the reconstitution of a split Integrase-Recombination Directionality Factor fusion (Integrase-RDF) that efficiently catalysed the reverse attR x attL recombination. This demonstrates the potential for split-intein regulation of the forward and reverse reactions using the integrase and the integrase-RDF fusion, respectively. The split-intein integrase is a potentially versatile, regulatable component for building synthetic genetic circuits and devices.

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<![CDATA[ De novo design of heat-repressible RNA thermosensors in E. coli]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bc22ea440307c139d6c5d57

RNA-based temperature sensing is common in bacteria that live in fluctuating environments. Most naturally-occurring RNA thermosensors are heat-inducible, have long sequences, and function by sequestering the ribosome binding site in a hairpin structure at lower temperatures. Here, we demonstrate the de novo design of short, heat-repressible RNA thermosensors. These thermosensors contain a cleavage site for RNase E, an enzyme native to Escherichia coli and many other organisms, in the 5′ untranslated region of the target gene. At low temperatures, the cleavage site is sequestered in a stem–loop, and gene expression is unobstructed. At high temperatures, the stem–loop unfolds, allowing for mRNA degradation and turning off expression. We demonstrated that these thermosensors respond specifically to temperature and provided experimental support for the central role of RNase E in the mechanism. We also demonstrated the modularity of these RNA thermosensors by constructing a three-input composite circuit that utilizes transcriptional, post-transcriptional, and post-translational regulation. A thorough analysis of the 24 thermosensors allowed for the development of design guidelines for systematic construction of similar thermosensors in future applications. These short, modular RNA thermosensors can be applied to the construction of complex genetic circuits, facilitating rational reprogramming of cellular processes for synthetic biology applications.

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<![CDATA[Addressable configurations of DNA nanostructures for rewritable memory]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bf2541bd5eed0c484f379f8

Abstract

DNA serves as nature's information storage molecule, and has been the primary focus of engineered systems for biological computing and data storage. Here we combine recent efforts in DNA self-assembly and toehold-mediated strand displacement to develop a rewritable multi-bit DNA memory system. The system operates by encoding information in distinct and reversible conformations of a DNA nanoswitch and decoding by gel electrophoresis. We demonstrate a 5-bit system capable of writing, erasing, and rewriting binary representations of alphanumeric symbols, as well as compatibility with ‘OR’ and ‘AND’ logic operations. Our strategy is simple to implement, requiring only a single mixing step at room temperature for each operation and standard gel electrophoresis to read the data. We envision such systems could find use in covert product labeling and barcoding, as well as secure messaging and authentication when combined with previously developed encryption strategies. Ultimately, this type of memory has exciting potential in biomedical sciences as data storage can be coupled to sensing of biological molecules.

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