Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic genetic clock keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures

Date:
April 4, 2014
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
A long-standing challenge in synthetic biology has been to create gene circuits that behave in predictable and robust ways. Mathematical modeling experts and experimental biologists have now created a synthetic genetic clock that keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures.

A long-standing challenge in synthetic biology has been to create gene circuits that behave in predictable and robust ways. Mathematical modeling experts from the University of Houston (UH) collaborated with experimental biologists at Rice University to create a synthetic genetic clock that keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures. The findings were published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Synthetic gene circuits are often fragile, and environmental changes frequently alter their behavior," said Krešimir Josić, professor of mathematics in UH's College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "Our work focused on engineering a gene circuit not affected by temperature change."

Synthetic biology is a field in which naturally occurring biological systems are redesigned for various purposes, such as producing biofuel. The UH and Rice research targeted the bacterium E. coli.

"In E. coli and other bacteria, if you increase the temperature by about 10 degrees the rate of biochemical reactions will double -- and therefore genetic clocks will speed up," Josić said. "We wanted to create a synthetic gene clock that compensates for this increase in tempo and keeps accurate time, regardless of temperature."

The UH team, led by Josić and William Ott, an assistant professor of mathematics, collaborated with the lab of Matthew Bennett, assistant professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice. Josić, Bennett and Ott have been working together on various research projects for three years. The team also included UH postdoctoral fellow Chinmaya Gupta.

According to Bennett, the ability to keep cellular reactions accurately timed, regardless of temperature, may be valuable to synthetic biologists who wish to reprogram cellular regulatory mechanisms for biotechnology.

The work involved engineering a gene within the clock onto a plasmid, a little piece of DNA that is inserted into E. coli. A mutation in the gene had the effect of slowing down the clock as temperature increased.

UH researchers created a mathematical model to assess the various design features that would be needed in the plasmid to counteract temperature change. Gupta showed that the model captured the mechanisms essential to compensate for the temperature-dependent changes in reaction rates.

The computational modeling confirmed that a single mutation could result in a genetic clock with a stable period across a large range of temperatures -- an observation confirmed by experiments in the Bennett lab. Josić's team then confirmed the predictions of the models using real data.

"Having a mechanistic model that allows you to determine which features are important and which can be ignored for a genetic circuit to behave in a particular way allows you to more efficiently create circuits with desired properties," Gupta said. "It allows you to concentrate on the most important factors necessary in the design."

"Throughout this work, we used mathematical models to find out what is important in designing robust synthetic gene circuits," Josić said. "Computational and mathematical tools are essential in all types of engineering. Why not for biological engineering?"

Josić, Ott and Bennett's research is funded by the National Institutes of Health through the joint National Science Foundation/National Institute of General Medical Sciences Mathematical Biology Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. The original article was written by Kathy Major. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Hussain, C. Gupta, A. J. Hirning, W. Ott, K. S. Matthews, K. Josic, M. R. Bennett. Engineered temperature compensation in a synthetic genetic clock. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; 111 (3): 972 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1316298111

Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Synthetic genetic clock keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404140403.htm>.
University of Houston. (2014, April 4). Synthetic genetic clock keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404140403.htm
University of Houston. "Synthetic genetic clock keeps accurate time across a range of temperatures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404140403.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins