We aimed to express reflectin in E. coli and to investigate its optical properties in order to build the groundwork for the manipulation of living structural colour. We also looked at the over-expression of reflectin in E. coli, in order to obtain relatively pure samples of the protein for making thin films.
Much of our work (particularly the in vivo work) simply hadn't been tried before, so, while we had high hopes, we could not be sure as to what would happen.
Working with living cells we have;
- Imaged squid tissue using novel techniques to explore the in vivo properties of reflectins.
- Succesfully produced reflectins in E. coli.
- Characterised best practices for in vivo reflectin production.
By engineering E. coli to overexpress reflectins we have;
- Purified reflectin and documented best practice for high purity yields.
- Made thin films which show structural colours.
- Demonstrated the rapid colour changes possible with reflectin.
- Videos of our thin films are available on youtube.
We contributed to Gibthon, an open-source collection of web-based tools for construct design, fully compatible with both BioBrick standards and newer assembly techniques.
- Greatly improved import and display of fragments (including support for partsregistry.org).
- Added tools to allow management of uploaded parts.
By creating the first BioBrick parts for production of structural colour, we hope to facilitate further research. Although time did not allow us to explore the full potential of our project, we have some ideas for what could be done next.