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Project Abstract

miRNAs were found to be key regulators in proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, hematopoesis and oncogenesis. Different cell types express different miRNAs that are used to regulate the expression of developmental-stage specific and/or tissue specific genes. Knowing the particular miRNA expression profile of distinct cell types, one can use those miRNAs to discriminate between cell types and even between cellular develpomental stages. What makes miRNAs even more powerful is their ability to regulate genes in a more controllable fashion when their binding sites are arranged next to each other in a pattern form. Therefore, the iGEM Team Heidelberg 2010 will create miRNA binding site patterns that will enable the control of any target gene of choice according to the cellular miRNA expression profile. A major power of the miRNA binding site patterns is the intagration of a whole variety of different miRNA input signals and the tunability of the output over a high range. Thus those patterns can be used in applications ranging from establishing the identity of certain cell types to revealing which changes in gene expression are relevant to specific viral infections. To this end, we will apply evolutionary methods for creating and screening large miRNA binding site pattern libraries. Computational modeling will be used for getting information on natural binding site pattern structure in order to enable rational design of complex binding site patterns recognizing certain cellular miRNA expression profiles in the future.

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