Friday, May 24, 2013

Project Update 1

Hello world!

Here's an update on what we've done this week and what we're doing with the project.

Our initial idea was to create a tool kit for the registry that allows iGEM teams to easily implement post translational modifications (PTMs) to complex proteins that they want to produce. Many eukaryotic cells have these PTMs to make the proteins they need, but prokaryotic organisms like E.coli have a much smaller selection of PTMs. So iGEM teams are limited in what proteins they can produce in E.coli. Our idea was to create a toolkit of devices and enzymes that other teams could put in their device to allow for the needed PTMs to work. So that's what we spent most of this week researching.

Unfortunately, after researching this idea we decided that PTMs weren't really a good project direction and that there isn't much we could do with it that would really be new or impressive. We can't create a toolkit like we originally planned because each type of PTM is radically different, even when it's two cases of the same modification. So since we can't create a useful toolkit, all we would be doing is putting coding regions in E.coli and seeing if it worked, which isn't really a good project.

So we started talking about quality control after Dr. Rickus mentioned it to us. We realized that there's no real standard for robustness of a part in the registry. People just put parts in one situation and test it in that specific set of variables, which doesn't help other teams if they want to use it in a different strain of microbe or under different conditions. So we read a paper that just came out that talked about creating a quality control number for genetic parts that shows how robust a part is to change. One of our focuses will be to adapt their method to iGEM parts and create a new system for measuring robustness of parts in the registry so teams can easily see how well a part can be used in different situations. It will add a level of characterization to the registry that is sorely needs. We are also talking about creating a number of devices or even a toolkit that teams can use to control robustness of a part. So let's say we create one device that keeps the output of a circuit steady in temperature changes, one that keeps steady in pH changes, and one that keeps it steady when the host species is changed. Then teams could use our quality control devices to better build and characterize their parts.

That's the direction we'll be focusing on for the last bit of this week and all of next week, and hopefully we'll have a working project outline by the end of next week.

Thanks for reading!

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