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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 ChiA gene is to be extracted from the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae genome. Chitin Synthase - ChiA protein product - 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; thus lysing the cell.
In mammalian skin, mitosis occurs in the basal layer of the epithelial cells from which the cells travel. 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. Similarly, our bacterial colony will have chitin-filled cells undergo lysis in the top layer of the lawn. The critical difference is that the bacterial colony will not be internally controlled, but this is something that can be remedied, and possibly a goal for future teams.


Medicinal Use:

wound and burn treatment/healing
hemostatic for orthopedic treatment of broken bones
viscoelastic solutions for ophthamology and orthopedic surgery
abdominal adhesions treatment
as antibacterial and antifungal agents and for treatment of mucous membranes
in tumor therapies
in micro surgery, neurosurgery
for treatment of chronic wounds, ulcers and bleeding (chitin powder)

Industrial Use:

food/pharmaceutical thickener, stabilizer, paper-strengthener
insoluble in water and many organic solvents
agricultural, cosmetics, dietary supplement, water treatment (filter), etc
derivatives such as chitosan have just as many uses
structural (hard)
Contemporary application:
Internalization and Compartmentalization - and thus sequestering - of particles such as 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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