Building bridges between living and in silicon systems

View all posters

Claudia Hernandez, Medina Héctor, Paz Enrique, Vargas Amhed, Garca Daniela, Lpez Jose, Berrocal Nelson, Buenda Jorge, Velasco Mariana, Zepeda Jorge and Montao Fernando.

Center for Genomics Science, Mexico

Cellular communication has relied on chemical messengers to exchange information. As such, these messengers regardless of their scope are constrained to a chemical system. For instance, the cellular membrane acts as a barrier through which only specific molecules can transverse. In this project, the goal is to render the chemical barrier deprecated in the cellular communication process by using a non-chemical messenger: light. It will transport information between bacterial cells that have been engineered to sense and emit light. Both light emitters and receptors are expressed in Escherichia coli. As light is a messenger effectively decoupled from the chemical layer, novel options arise to expand the already known possibilities of communication among bacteria; being the transfer of information between biological and in silicon systems, such as computers, an attractive bridge to exploit the control of biological processes directed by electronic systems. We believe that this new level will soon change reasoning and design in synthetic biology while interfacing living systems with themselves and informational systems. The modules of reception are photo-receptors that suffer a light dependent conformational change, thus switching from an inactive to an active conformation, which induces or represses a gene expression. A blue light photo sensor (LOVTAP) was assembled by Strickland et al., and submitted to the registry in 2009 by Lausanne team. In this work, we describe in detail the experimental progress obtained characterizing LOVTAP module, including the design and construction steps followed, as well a theoretical stochastic rule-based model that tests different scenarios to analyze its transcriptional behavior. Finally, we used a model to study protein folding and dynamics to explore the effects of punctual aminoacid changes.