Matching Items (4)

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A general strategy for expanding polymerase function by droplet microfluidics

Description

Polymerases that synthesize artificial genetic polymers hold great promise for advancing future applications in synthetic biology. However, engineering natural polymerases to replicate unnatural genetic polymers is a challenging problem. Here

Polymerases that synthesize artificial genetic polymers hold great promise for advancing future applications in synthetic biology. However, engineering natural polymerases to replicate unnatural genetic polymers is a challenging problem. Here we present droplet-based optical polymerase sorting (DrOPS) as a general strategy for expanding polymerase function that employs an optical sensor to monitor polymerase activity inside the microenvironment of a uniform synthetic compartment generated by microfluidics. We validated this approach by performing a complete cycle of encapsulation, sorting and recovery on a doped library and observed an enrichment of ∼1,200-fold for a model engineered polymerase. We then applied our method to evolve a manganese-independent α-L-threofuranosyl nucleic acid (TNA) polymerase that functions with >99% template-copying fidelity. Based on our findings, we suggest that DrOPS is a versatile tool that could be used to evolve any polymerase function, where optical detection can be achieved by Watson–Crick base pairing.

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  • 2016-04-05

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Exploring nuclease resistance and biological stability of threose nucleic acid

Description

Nucleic acid polymers have numerous applications in both therapeutics and research to control gene expression and bind biologically relevant targets. However, due to poor biological stability their clinical applications are

Nucleic acid polymers have numerous applications in both therapeutics and research to control gene expression and bind biologically relevant targets. However, due to poor biological stability their clinical applications are limited. Chemical modifications can improve both intracellular and extracellular stability and enhance resistance to nuclease degradation. To identify a potential candidate for a highly stable synthetic nucleic acid, the biostability of α-L-threofuranosyl nucleic acid (TNA) was evaluated under simulated biological conditions. TNA contains a four-carbon sugar and is linked by 2’, 3’ phosphodiester bonds. We hypothesized that this distinct chemical structure would yield greater nuclease resistance in human serum and human liver microsomes, which were selected as biologically relevant nuclease conditions. We found that TNA oligonucleotides remained undigested for 7 days in these conditions. In addition, TNA/DNA heteropolymers and TNA/RNA oligonucleotide duplexes displayed nuclease resistance, suggesting that TNA has a protective effect over DNA and RNA. In conclusion TNA demonstrates potential as a viable synthetic nucleic acid for use in numerous clinical and therapeutic applications.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Validating a Model for Catalytic Function in 9°N Polymerase Based on Structural Conservation

Description

Nucleic acids encode the information required to create life, and polymerases are the gatekeepers charged with maintaining the storage and flow of this genetic information. Synthetic biologists utilize this universal

Nucleic acids encode the information required to create life, and polymerases are the gatekeepers charged with maintaining the storage and flow of this genetic information. Synthetic biologists utilize this universal property to modify organisms and other systems to create unique traits or improve the function of others. One of the many realms in synthetic biology involves the study of biopolymers that do not exist naturally, which is known as xenobiology. Although life depends on two biopolymers for genetic storage, it may be possible that alternative molecules (xenonucleic acids – XNAs), could be used in their place in either a living or non-living system. However, implementation of an XNA based system requires the development of polymerases that can encode and decode information stored in these artificial polymers. A strategy called directed evolution is used to modify or alter the function of a protein of interest, but identifying mutations that can modify polymerase function is made problematic by their size and overall complexity. To reduce the amount of sequence space that needs to be samples when attempting to identify polymerase variants, we can try to make informed decisions about which amino acid residues may have functional roles in catalysis. An analysis of Family B polymerases has shown that residues which are involved in substrate specificity are often highly conserved both at the sequence and structure level. In order to validate the hypothesis that a strong correlation exists between structural conservation and catalytic activity, we have selected and mutated residues in the 9°N polymerase using a loss of function mutagenesis strategy based on a computational analysis of several homologues from a diverse range of taxa. Improvement of these models will hopefully lead to quicker identification of loci which are ideal engineering targets.

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  • 2015-05

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Comparative Analysis of Eukaryotic Cell-Free Translation Systems

Description

Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) is becoming an increasingly popular method of in vitro protein expression for biotechnology applications. However, there is still no comprehensive resource that outlines the most effective

Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) is becoming an increasingly popular method of in vitro protein expression for biotechnology applications. However, there is still no comprehensive resource that outlines the most effective lysate and template combinations for efficient eukaryotic CFPS. To address this issue, expression vectors were constructed and assayed in order to determine their activity within three commercial eukaryotic CFPS systems: Wheat Germ Extract (WGE), Rabbit Reticulocyte Lysate (RRL), and HeLa Cell Lysate (HCL). Previously in the Chaput lab, a luciferase reporter vector was expressed in each lysate system, testing different template variables impacting protein expression, including the 5' UTR sequence, presence of poly(A) tail, and DNA type. It was found that plasmid DNA templates generally yielded ~500-fold greater amount of protein than linear DNA templates and the inclusion of a poly(A) tail did not significantly increase protein expression in the plasmid systems. Additionally, the incorporation of a viral translation enhancing sequence into the 5' UTR increased translation in a lysate-specific manner. The HCL system had a strong preference for the EMCV sequence, WGE had a preference for the sequences from AMV and TMV, and RRL showed no specific preference. Overall, the HCL-EMCV system generated the greatest amount of protein per volume, producing 10-fold more protein than the second best template-lysate combination tested. Here, four human genes fused with a c-Myc tag were expressed in each lysate using the EMCV 5' UTR sequence in order to test the generality of the previous results. Protein synthesis was assayed using a luciferase construct with a c-Myc tag to recapitulate the previous luminometer data and western blotting of the human proteins. These analyses showed the same EMCV expression trends across all systems, with the HCL system synthesizing the greatest amount of each protein. In the future, when choosing commercial eukaryotic CFPS systems for gene expression, these template variables should be considered when performing cost analysis for cell-free protein production.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05