Standardization and orthogonalization of the gene expression flow for robust engineering of NTN (new-to-nature) biological properties.

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The project is part of the EU Seventh Framework Program.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Takors
University of Stuttgart
Institute of Biochemical Engineering
Allmandring 31
70569 Stuttgart
Funding Period:

01.12.2011 - 30.11.2014

Project description
The ST-FLOW Project merges the efforts of 15 leading European and US research groups for developing material and computational standards that enable the forward-design of prokaryotic systems with a degree of robustness and predictability that is not possible with customary Genetic Engineering.
The central issue at stake is the identification and implementation of rules that allow the conversion of given biological parts assembled with a set of principles for physical composition into perfectly predictable functional properties of the resulting devices, modules and entire systems. ST-FLOW focuses on each of the steps that go from assembling a DNA sequence encoding all necessary expression signals in a prokaryotic host (by default, E. coli) all the way to the making of the final product or to the behaviour of single cells and populations.
Two complementary approaches will be adopted to solve the conundrum of physical composition vs. biological functionality of thereby engineered devices. In one case (bottom up), large combinatorial libraries of gene expression signals will be merged with suitable reporter systems and the input/output functions examined and parameterized in a high-throughput fashion. The expected outcome of this effort is to establish experience-based but still reliable rules and criteria for the assembly of new devices and systems -following the same physical composition rules or adopting CAD design. Yet, many outliers (combinations that do not follow the rules) are expected, and making sense of them will be the task of the complementary top-down approach.
In this case, ST-FLOW will revisit some of gaps in our knowledge of the gene expression flow (transcription, mRNA fate, translation) that need to be addressed for engineering functional devices from first principles. Ethical, legal and societal issues will also be examined in a context of public dialogue and sound science communication.
  1. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas CSIC Spain
  2. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine IMPERIAL United Kingdom
  3. Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich ETHZ Switzerland
  4. The University of Birmingham UOB United Kingdom
  5. Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  6. Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica ITQB Portugal
  7. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS France
  8. Lifewizz Ltda LWIZZ Portugal
  9. International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology BIOFAB USA
  10. Université de Lausanne UNIL Switzerland
  11. Bio-Iliberis R&D BIRD Spain
  12. Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Bioverfahrenstechnik IBVT Germany
  13. University of Valencia UV Spain
  14. Biofaction KG BIOF Austria
  15. Technische Universität München TUM Germany
  16. The University of Edinburgh UED United Kingdom


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