No Theory Lunch this week

April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

but instead, you could consider attending this seminar:

The genome as the unit of engineering in synthetic biology

Andy Ellington

Friday, Apr 8, 2011, 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Cannon Room, Building C, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115

(hosted by the Wyss Institute/Peng Yin)

Abstract: Synthetic biology is typically thought of as the construction of complex circuitry from standardized biological parts. Setting aside for the moment whether it is in fact possible to construct standardized biological parts and to derive predictable, modular functions from these parts it is nonetheless true that in biology the unit of selection is the genome as a whole. Because of this it seems likely that engineering of biological systems should proceed at least in part from the level of the genome downward (as shown nicely by George Church and his group in their work with MAGE). The manipulation of genomes in a predictable manner will require additional tools. We have begun to develop tools based upon targeted Group II intron retrotransposition (so-called Targetrons).  Using ‘genome editing’ we can perform high-efficiency deletion, insertion, and rearrangement of multiple different bacterial genomes. While this partially solves the problem of how to rationally engineer genomes, it does not provide a means for programming genomes. We believe, however, that recent advances in DNA computation (as exemplified by work from the Yin lab) may provide a route towards true programmability and the development of biological software.

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