Visualising genetic circuits in space and time with paper-based cell-free translation

 

The paper-based cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) system should simplify studying gene circuitry, as triggers and products of the regulatory events could be made visible and spatially separated from one another.

The Idea

The most effective way to learn complex biological concepts, e.g., gene circuits, is through experimentation. We propose using a paper-based cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) system for testing and demonstrating predesigned genetic circuits in class. The TXTL systems are widely used for studying and prototyping transcription and translation-based regulatory circuits. The open architecture of TXTL, their low cost, and ease of safety regulations makes the cell-free systems an attractive educational tool for studying synthetic biology and the principles of genetic control.

Similarly to electronic circuits, where functional modules are spatially separated, we aim to build a network of TXTL-paper pieces each individually programmed with DNA constructs. In this wet circuit, expression of one regulatory component in one piece, in a simple scenario, will drive expression of the reporter in another TXTL-paper unit upon its directed flow with a buffer. This experimental setup should simplify studying gene circuitry, as triggers and products of the regulatory events could be made visible and spatially separated from one another. Also, the nature of the wet circuits and TXTL-systems makes this tool inherently customizable to match experimentation needs.

The Team

Zakir Tnimov,
Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry Division, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Charlie Morgan,
Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry Division, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology


Project Outputs

Project Report

Summary of the project's achievements and future plans

Project Proposal

Figure 1

Original proposal and application

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Project Resources


Title

Summary

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Jim Haseloff