Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Regulating the E.coli genetic clock



Rice biochemist Matthew Bennett and his team developed a robust synthetic genetic clock that allows Escherichia coli bacteria to accurately keep time in a wide temperature range. The clock, which regulates the production of proteins, does not speed up or slow down with changing temperatures, and offers one possible solution to a problem that has hindered the advance of synthetic biology.

Escherichia coli is a Gram-negative, facultatively anaerobic, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms (endotherms). Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in their hosts, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls due to food contamination. The harmless strains are part of the normal flora of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2, and preventing colonization of the intestine with pathogenic bacteria

The results were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The revelation will be of interest to biologists who study regulatory systems, particularly circadian rhythms, but it may be most valuable to synthetic biologists who wish to reprogram cellular regulatory mechanisms for biotechnology.

For further details see:

F. Hussain, C. Gupta, A. J. Hirning, W. Ott, K. S. Matthews, K. Josic, M. R. Bennett. Engineered temperature compensation in a synthetic genetic clock. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1316298111#sthash.cSNkoieN.dpuf

Posted by Tim Sandle