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Revision as of 04:24, 15 July 2010

Tech Institute

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Project Description: Bacterial Skin

Our main project is to simulate mammalian skin using chitin in E Coli. The process was realized by four major components: Lawn Formation, Chitin Synthesis, Bacterial Apoptosis, and lac-Operon Signaling.
A thick bacterial lawn is to be generated by plating ydgG knock-out mutants (acquired from the Keio Collection) in an enriched agar plate. The protein product of ydgG plays an integral role in AI-2 Transport. ydgG knock-outs exhibit increased motility which should ultimately allow for a thick and level lawn.
Once the lawn is established, a solution of IPTG will be sprayed over the lawn to induce chitin synthesis (fast response) and apoptosis (slow response). IPTG mimics allolactose which binds to the LacI repressor, causing LacI to detach from DNA and allowing RNA Polymerase to begin transcription.
The 3.5kbp Chitin Synthase III gene is to be extracted from the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae genome. Chitin Synthase III catalyzes the polymerization of chitin by transferring UDP-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine to an N(1,4 N-Acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminyl) to produce N+1(1,4 N-Acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminyl).
Apoptosis of cells will be achieved by using the bacteriophage lysis cassette built by the Brown '08 iGEM Team. The cassette includes Holin, Endolysin, and Rz Protein genes. Combined, the enzymes puncture and degrade the cell membrane which results in lysing of the cell and the release of synthesized chitin.
In mammalian skin, mitosis occurs in the basal layer of the epithelial cells and cells travel outwards towards the surface of the skin as they mature. As the cells move further away from the basal layer, they begin to die due to lack of nutrients. They are then filled with keratin and their cytoplasm is released, thus forming a continuously regenerating protective layer on the outer-most part of epithelial layer. Our project is modeled after this. The bacterial lawn will produce chitin only at the top-most layer. These top-most cells will also undergo apoptosis resulting in the formation of a chitinous layer at the surface of the lawn. The critical difference is that the bacterial colony will not be internally controlled (controlled by IPTG spray), but this is something that can be remedied and a possible goal for future teams.


Medicinal Use:

  • Wound and burn treatment/healing
  • Hemostasis for orthopedic treatment of broken bones
  • Viscoelastic solutions for ophthamology and orthopedic surgery
  • Abdominal adhesion treatment
  • Antibacterial and antifungal agents
  • Treatment of mucous membranes (???)
  • Tumor therapies (???)
  • Microsurgery and neurosurgery
  • Treatment of chronic wounds, ulcers and bleeding (chitin powder)

Industrial Use:

  • Food/Pharmaceutical thickener, stabilizer, paper-strengthener
  • Water resistant
  • Agricultural
  • Cosmetics
  • Dietary supplement
  • Water treatment (filter) (???)
  • derivatives such as chitosan have just as many uses (???)
  • Biodegradable
  • Structural purposes (hard)
  • Sequestering of particles (i.e. oil)

Side Project: Magnetite Production

Our side project is to synthesize superparamagnetic magnetite nanoparticles in E Coli.

Nano-manipulation of magnetite particles, which can lead to a plethora of advances, especially in research technology and biomedical technology.

Understanding and utilization of magnetotaxis and/or magnetoception in bacteria.

Possible production and use of ferrofluid, a paramagnetic or superparamagnetic fluid.

Ability to create uniform nanoparticles will further nanotechnology. (biotech is nanotech that works)

Northwestern University

Northwestern University


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