Navigation Links
Carnegie Mellon researchers develop artificial cells to study molecular crowding and gene expression
Date:7/14/2013

PITTSBURGHThe interior of a living cell is a crowded place, with proteins and other macromolecules packed tightly together. A team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University has approximated this molecular crowding in an artificial cellular system and found that tight quarters help the process of gene expression, especially when other conditions are less than ideal.

As the researchers report in an advance online publication by the journal Nature Nanotechnology, these findings may help explain how cells have adapted to the phenomenon of molecular crowding, which has been preserved through evolution. And this understanding may guide synthetic biologists as they develop artificial cells that might someday be used for drug delivery, biofuel production and biosensors.

"These are baby steps we're taking in learning how to make artificial cells," said Cheemeng Tan, a Lane Postdoctoral Fellow and a Branco-Weiss Fellow in the Lane Center for Computational Biology, who led the study. Most studies of synthetic biological systems today employ solution-based chemistry, which does not involve molecular crowding. The findings of the CMU study and the lessons of evolution suggest that bioengineers will need to build crowding into artificial cells if synthetic genetic circuits are to function as they would in real cells.

The research team, which included Russell Schwartz, professor of biological sciences; Philip LeDuc, professor of mechanical engineering and biological sciences; Marcel Bruchez, professor of chemistry; and Saumya Saurabh, a Ph.D. student in chemistry, developed their artificial cellular system using molecular components from bacteriophage T7, a virus that infects bacteria that is often used as a model in synthetic biology.

To mimic the crowded intracellular environment, the researchers used various amounts of inert polymers to gauge the effects of different density levels.

Crowding in a cell isn't so different from a crowd of people, Tan said. If only a few people are in a room, it's easy for people to mingle, or even to become isolated. But in a crowded room where it's hard to move around, individuals will often tend to stay close to each other for extended periods. The same thing happens in a cell. If the intracellular space is crowded, binding between molecules increases.

Notably, the researchers found that the dense environments also made gene transcription less sensitive to environmental changes. When the researchers altered concentrations of magnesium, ammonium and spermidine chemicals that modulate the stability and binding of macromolecules they found higher perturbations of gene expression in low density environments than in high density environments.

"Artificial cellular systems have tremendous potential for applications in drug delivery, bioremediation and cellular computing," Tan said. "Our findings underscore how scientists could harness functioning mechanisms of natural cells to their advantage to control these synthetic cellular systems, as well as in hybrid systems that combine synthetic materials and natural cells."


'/>"/>

Contact: Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Keck award enables Carnegie Mellon and Stanford to dramatically expand crowdsourced RNA design
2. Carnegies Greg Asner named Energy/Climate Fellow by US State Department
3. Carnegie Mellon fluorescent biosensor reveals mechanism critical to immune system amplification
4. Carnegies Wolf B. Frommer receives Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology
5. Carnegie Mellon Universitys Biometrics Center Selected To House New Pedo-Biometrics Research and Identity Automation Lab
6. Carnegie Mellon study shows skin-aging radicals age naturally formed particles in the air
7. Carnegies Donald Brown wins Lasker-Koshland Award
8. Carnegie Institution for Science receives Grand Challenges Explorations grant
9. Carnegie debuts revolutionary biosphere mapping capability at AGU
10. Carnegies Greg Asner elected to National Academy of Sciences
11. Carnegie Mellon neuroscientists discover new phase of synaptic development
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/11/2017)... 11, 2017  Michael Johnson, co-founder of Visikol Inc. a company ... has been named to the elite "Forbes 30 Under 30" list ... 600 people in 20 fields nationwide to be recognized as a ... applicants were selected. ... He is currently a PhD candidate at Rutgers University. ...
(Date:1/4/2017)... , Jan. 4, 2017  CES 2017 – ... biometric sensor technology, today announced the launch of ... sensor systems, the highly-accurate biometric sensor modules that ... biometric technology, experience and expertise. The two new ... designed specifically for hearables, and Benchmark BW2.0, a ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... and GENEVA, Dec, 20, 2016   ... data sensor technology, and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: ... spectrum of electronics applications, announced today the launch ... kit for biometric wearables that includes ST,s compact ... Valencell,s Benchmark™ biometric sensor system. Together, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... uBiome, ... latest paper by its Science Editor, Dr. Elisabeth Bik, in the December 2016 ... Dr. Bik joined uBiome in October 2016 from her previous position at Stanford ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... , Jan. 18, 2017 Shareholder rights law ... into whether the board members of CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ... in connection with the proposed sale of the Company ... company that develops small molecules for the acute treatment ... announced it had signed a definitive merger agreement with ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... , Jan. 18, 2017  Caris Life ... the Lustgarten Foundation, the largest private funder of ... clinical trial evaluating the impact of immunotherapy in ... clinical trial enrollment services to identify potential trial ... communication between treating physicians and study investigators. The ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... -- Market Research Future published a half-cooked research report on Global Cancer ... a CAGR of 12% during the period 2016 to 2022. ... ... division without any control. These abnormal cells have the ability to ... can spread to other parts of the body through the blood ...
Breaking Biology Technology: