BioE Seminar: Engineering and Evolving Cellular Regulatory Systems
Abstract: Cells use genetically-encoded molecular circuits to enable core cellular functions, such as decision-making, computation, and epigenetic memory. How do these complex functions and phenotypes emerge from underlying regulatory circuits, and how do these regulatory systems evolve? In this talk, I will share how my lab has been developing bottom-up (building) approaches to help address these questions. First, I will discuss our efforts to use synthetic biology to study the design principles of cellular regulatory systems. Specifically, I will describe synthetic biology platforms we developed to engineer eukaryotic transcriptional regulatory networks from component "parts". I will show the application of these platforms to engineer (1) synthetic transcriptional circuits that use tunable cooperativity to enable complex signal processing behaviors in cells, and (2) synthetic regulatory circuits that operate on chromatin modifications to test basic mechanisms of epigenetic regulation and memory. Second, I will describe a do-it-yourself (DIY) technology platform we recently invented, termed "eVOLVER", that enables researchers to design customized, automated, and high-throughput growth experiments to quantify cellular adaptation and perform continuous laboratory evolution of biological systems.