2018 Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design (SEED) is coming to Arizona

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Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design (SEED) is an annual conference that has been hosted in different cities since 2014: Manhattan Beach, CA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; and Vancouver, Canada. This year the rapidly growing, highly-visible meeting will take place in Scottsdale, AZ! SEED 2018 will focus on advances in science, technology, applications, and related investments in the field of synthetic biology. This year’s theme will be “synthetic biology at the leading edge of massive DNA synthesis, editing, and decoding.”

The Meeting Chairs are Karmella Haynes (ASU) and Ryan Gill (UC Boulder).

Keynote speakers will include Jim Collins (MIT), Jay Keasling (UC Berkeley), Floyd Romesberg (Scripps), and Pam Ronald (UC Davis).

The call for poster abstracts is open until May 26, 2018.

If you are interested in supporting the conference, please visit the webpage, SEED: Become a Sponsor or Exhibitor, for more information.

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Research – ACS Biochemistry – Design, construction, and validation of histone-binding effectors in vitro and in cells

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Design, construction, and validation of histone-binding effectors in vitro and in cells
Tekel SJ, Barrett CM, Vargas DA, Haynes KA. (2018) ACS Biochemistry. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00327 (Just Accepted manuscript)

In a special topic issue from ACS Biochemistry: From the Bench, we describe our workflow for quick screening and validation of customized histone-binding fusion proteins. Since our previous report where we enhanced the activity of one such fusion called PcTF, we modified our procedure to circumvent the need to generate large quantities of fusion proteins in bacterial cultures. Instead, we use cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) to generate small batches of variant proteins, quantify the product with ELISA, and determine relative avidities using immobilized histone peptides in an ELISA format. We demonstrate that relative binding determined by ELISA is consistent with the strength of gene-regulation activity at a target gene in HEK293 cells. Our ongoing work aims to miniaturize this technique even further for rapid exploration of the vast design space for synthetic epigenetic effectors.

Dr. Haynes invited to speak at UCLA

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Dr. Haynes has been invited to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to present a talk entitled “A pipeline to engineer synthetic epigenetic proteins derived from chromatin” for the UCLA Bioengineering Department Seminar Series on Thursday, May 17, 2018 in the Engineering V building.

Kimberly Olney receives a 2018 ARCS award

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Congratulations to Kimberly Olney (PhD, SOLS) who just received a 2018 Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Award.  Kimberly is a graduate student who studies genomics and bioinformatics under the mentorship of Dr. Melissa Wilson Sayres, and has collaborated with the Haynes lab to discover genes that are controlled by synthetic chromatin regulators in breast cancer.

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Fatima Hamna receives a 2018 MORE fellowship for Master’s research

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Congratulations to Fatima Hamna (Master’s, Biomedical Engineering) who will be joining the Haynes lab this summer with support from the new Master’s Opportunity for Research in Engineering (MORE). She will receive a stipend, materials and supplies, and the opportunity for travel support to present at a research conference.

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Christina Smith receives 2018 FURI fellowship for undergrad research

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Congratulations to Christina Smith (Undergrad, Biomedical Engineering) who will receive a stipend, materials and supplies, and an opportunity for conference travel support to complete a project in the Haynes lab this summer. Sponsorship is provided by the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI). This will be her second FURI award since joining the Haynes lab.

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Haynes Lab Students Presenting Research at Spring 2018 EBRC Retreat in Seattle

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ebrc_logo3Haynes lab members Cassandra Barrett and Stefan Tekel will be presenting research at a 2018 Spring Retreat organized by the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC). The retreat will take place at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA March 23 – 24, 2018. EBRC members include some of the most prestigious labs in synthetic biology. Attendees will come from academic, industry, and government institutions from across the country.

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Research – bioRxiv Pre-print – Characterization of Diverse Homoserine Lactone Synthases in Escherichia coli

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Characterization of Diverse Homoserine Lactone Synthases in Escherichia coli
Daer R, Barrett CM, Melendez EL, Wu J, Tekel SJ, Xu J, Dennison B, Muller R, Haynes KA. (2018) bioRxiv. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/03/09/279349

The Haynes lab focuses on advanced chromosome engineering in human cells, but also provides opportunities for undergraduates to learn synthetic biology using simpler organisms like bacteria (E. coli). In this paper, the 2016 ASU International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Competition team and their graduate advisors report their work to identify useful, new cell-cell communication components to use in engineered systems. Homoserine lactone (HSL) synthases appear as a wide variety of different forms in the bacterial kingdom, and produce various chemical signals that regulate genes in neighboring bacteria. When these are combined to build synthetic circuits in a common lab strain (E. coli), the signals are sometimes not produced as expected. Therefore, it is important to systematically characterize HSL synthases in context. The team also used experiments to identify the most effective way to neutralize unused HSLs in biological waste. The ten HSL synthases characterized in this paper were contributed to public collections for use by the scientific community.