Team:MIT phage


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hairy cells and polymerizing phage - introduction

Integrating the BioBrick assembly standard, synthetic biology, and phage display, a system has been developed to translate UV light input into M13 bacteriophage polymerization and biomaterial formation using E. coli as a chassis. Utilizing a previously characterized toggle-switch, the system created is set to a stable “on” state with the introduction of UV light. The “on” state turns on transcription of the genes necessary for phage polymerization. The phage polymerization can occur due to engineered leucine zipper interactions of proteins being displayed on the phage coat. Cells infected with phage that lack a certain gene (gIII) produce long fibril-like polyphage that stick out of the cell; it is these polyphage that are designed to cross-link. In the future, these technologies could lead to advances in nanoscale fabrication, biomaterial production, and new applications for phage display technology.

Below is an EM of E. coli with polyphage hairs. Our goal is to get these hairs to cross-link via leucine zipper interactions. (Despite what it may look like, these are not cross-linking.)

Rakonjac and Model, 1998