The Genome Center Systems and Synthetic Biology Seminar Series present:
Title: From minimal cells to reconfigurable systems
Speaker: Cheemeng Tan
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2015, 10am – 11am
Location: 1005 GBSF
Reconfigurability refers to the ability of natural systems to dynamically change their properties, including spatial distribution of cells, cellular structures, and organization of cellular networks. While cells achieve such reconfigurability with relative ease, synthetic biological systems are primarily engineered and studied using the classical paradigm of engineered systems, in which circuit components are connected through static biochemical wiring. Can we take advantage of reconfiguration mechanisms of natural cells to create a new class of reconfigurable synthetic systems? What are the tradeoffs between versatility and fidelity of reconfigurable biological systems? To address the questions, my lab uses synthetic biology approaches to investigate the reconfigurability of natural cells. I will discuss our effort in creating reconfigurable cellular dynamics using synthetic gene circuits, as well as controlling population dynamics using artificial cells. Our results will challenge the classical paradigm of synthetic biology, which has focused primarily on fixed topology of intracellular gene circuits. Furthermore, our results will establish the foundation toward reconfigurable synthetic systems that can be switched between distinct functions and dynamics using external signals.