Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Recreating natural complex gene regulation

04.02.2013
By reproducing in the laboratory the complex interactions that cause human genes to turn on inside cells, Duke University bioengineers have created a system they believe can benefit gene therapy research and the burgeoning field of synthetic biology.

This new approach should help basic scientists as they tease out the effects of "turning on" or "turning off" many different genes, as well as clinicians seeking to develop new gene-based therapies for human disease.


This is an image of TALE.
Credit: Charles Gersbach

"We know that human genes are not just turned on or off, but can be activated to any level over a wide range. Current engineered systems use one protein to control the levels of gene activation," said Charles Gersbach, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and member of Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy. "However, we know that natural human genes are regulated by interactions between dozens of proteins that lead to diverse outcomes within a living system.

"In contrast to typical genetics studies that dissect natural gene networks in a top-down fashion, we developed a bottom-up approach, which allows us to artificially simulate these natural complex interactions between many proteins that regulate a single gene," Gersbach said. "Additionally, this approach allowed us to turn on genes inside cells to levels that were not previously possible."

The results of the Duke experiments, which were conducted by Pablo Perez-Pinera, a senior research scientist in Gersbach's laboratory, were published on-line in the journal Nature Methods. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, The Hartwell Foundation, and the March of Dimes.

Human cells have about 20,000 genes which produce a multitude of proteins, many of which affect the actions of other genes. Being able to understand these interactions would greatly improve the ability of scientists in all areas of biomedical research. However because of the complexity of this natural system, synthetic biologists create simple gene networks to have precise control over each component. These scientists can use these networks for applications in biosensing, biocomputation, or regenerative medicine, or can use them as models to study the more complex natural systems.

"This new system can be a powerful new approach for probing the fundamental mechanisms of natural gene regulation that are currently poorly understood," Perez-Pinera said. "In this way, we can further the capacity of synthetic biology and biological programming in mammalian systems."

The latest discoveries were made possible by using a new technology for building synthetic proteins known as transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs), which are artificial enzymes that can be engineered to "bind" to almost any gene sequences. Since these TALEs can be easily produced, the researchers were able to make many of them to control specific genes.

"All biological systems depend on gene regulation," Gersbach said. "The challenge facing bioengineering researchers is trying to synthetically recreate processes that occur in nature."

Other members of the team were Duke's David Ousterout, Jonathan Brunger, Alicia Farin, Katherine Glass, Farshid Guilak, Gregory Crawford, and Alexander Hartemink.

Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>