Won Best Human Practices Advance, Americas Featured on the Autodesk Blog Check out our Presentation at the Jamboree. Enjoy!
Radiation-resistance? There's a Gene for That.
Our iGEM squadron consists of students from the Dalton School, Hunter College, Columbia University, Yeshiva University, NYU-Poly, and Cornell University. Our advisors (and donated workspace) reside at Weill Cornell Medical College on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Briefly, over the summer we will be investigating the genetic mechanisms for ionizing radiation resistance in Deinococcus radiodurans through genome sequencing, RNA-sequencing experiments, and high throughput cloning.
We're placing genes from Deinococcus radiodurans into E. coli and upregulating some of E. coli's own genes. We targeted genes associated with radioresistance in the hopes of conferring radioresistance upon radiovulnerable E. coli. Future applications for the control of cellular resistance to radiation include bioremediation of radioactive waste, highly effective stem cell transplants, and terraforming Mars.
We've been examining the literature on different approaches to explaining Deinococcus radiodurans' radioresistance:
1. DNA Repair - Dr. John Battista's work has focused on the rapid DNA repair mechanisms of D. rad and their attendant proteins as the responsible parties for its extraordinary radioresistance.
2. Cellular Metabolome - Dr. Michael Daly's research suggests that the higher Manganese to Iron Ratio in D. rad increases antioxidant properties in the cells and reduces damage from radiative events.
3. Neutralization of superoxide radicals - the Superoxide Dismutase / Catalase system has been shown to neutralize damaging oxygen radicals in a variety of species from Humans to Wheat.
Our ConsiderationsOrdering lunch for our team was more difficult than any other protocols we developed. With our mix of kosher-eaters, vegans, and vegetarians, making menu selections was no simple matter. It dawned on us to discuss the relationship of synthetic biology to food ethics. Is laboratory-grown meat kosher? Is it vegan? What do authorities from both traditions have to say about the matter? While in vitro meat is still a prospect of the somewhat distant future, cheese is already being made from animal enzymes that are being synthesized by transformed bacteria. How have the kosher and vegan communities responded to these innovations?
Another of our Human Practices initiatives is less sophisticated, but no less important. We will be running a science workshop at Camp Simcha, demonstrating some of the coolest experiments that synthetic biology has to offer for the education and entertainment of kids and teens dealing with serious illness.