Haynes Lab members presenting research at the 2018 Fall EBRC Retreat in Colorado

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Haynes lab PhD students Cassandra Barrett and Stefan Tekel, as well as PI Dr. Haynes will present the lab’s latest work in human cell engineering at the 2018 Fall Retreat for the Engineering Biology Research Center (EBRC) at Colorado State University. Dr. Haynes serves on the governing board as a Councilor and has been affiliated with EBRC (formerly SynBERC) since 2011. Cassandra Barrett is the President of the Student and Postdoc Association, and the Policy & International Liaison. Dr. Haynes will present a talk entitled “BifC-PD: Fluorescent Sensors to Illuminate the Impact of Chromatin on the Nuclear Uptake and Expression of Recombinant DNA.” Cassandra Barrett will present a poster entitled “Active versus Accessible: Engineering Open Chromatin in Mammalian Cells.” Stefan Tekel will present a poster entitled “A Versatile Phenotypic Reporter for Cas9 Base Editing of Disease Relevant SNPs,” a collaborative project with the Brafman lab at ASU.


Haynes Lab Alum Spotlight – Rene Daer

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Congratulations to Rene Daer, who recently joined Progenity as a Research Scientist. Rene earned her PhD in Biological Design in 2017 after completing her thesis work in the Haynes lab. Her accomplishments include two first-author research papers in ACS Synthetic Biology and PLoS ONE, a co-authored research paper in Nature Genomic Medicine, a first-author review in Frontiers in Bioengineering, an ARCS award, oral presentations at the biannual SynBERC retreat, and several posters at national conferences. She also served as Co-President of the SynBERC Student and Postdoc Association, co-advisor for the ASU iGEM team, and was a TA for three years for the annual Cold Spring Harbor Summer Course in Synthetic Biology.

Haynes Lab Alum Spotlight – Ben Nyer

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Congratulations to David Ben Nyer, who recently joined Caribou Biosciences as a Research Scientist. Ben was a research technician in the Haynes lab from 2014 – 2017. His accomplishments include first authorship of our paper in Nature Genomic Medicine, a talk at the SynBERC biannual retreat, and poster presentations at national conferences.

News: Synthetic Biology highlighted in ASU News

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Synthetic biology is making an impact at Arizona State University. Articles recently published in the major news outlets for the University describe the recent SEED conference (Synthetic Biology Engineering, Evolution and Design), which took place in Scottsdale, AZ in June 2018. There were over 400 attendees from across the US and the globe. The articles also discuss synthetic biology research taking place in the lab of Dr. Karmella Haynes (SEED 2018 Co-Chair), and the labs of Dr. Xiao Wang, Dr. Samira Kiani (SEED 2018 Co-Chair), David Nielsen, Mo Ebrahimkani (session chair), and Cheryl Nickerson (invited speaker). The articles also feature quotes from Jim Collins (invited speaker, MIT) and Julius Lucks (SEED 2019 Co-Chair, Northwestern U).

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Stefan Tekel invited as TA for 2018 CSHL Synthetic Biology summer course

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Stefan Tekel, a Biodesign graduate student in the Haynes lab, will be joining a team of four professors and teaching assistants this year at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He will serve as teaching assistant for a CSHL Synthetic Biology Summer Course module led by Dr. Karmella Haynes. The module, called “Chromatin – Design, Build, Test” features Stefan’s latest first-authored work as the main topic. CSHL students will learn how to design and construct fusion proteins, produce these in a cell-free expression system, and test the proteins’ activities in a biochemical assay. Several new, unpublished designs will be tested, and successful candidate proteins will be used to control gene expression in a cultured human cell line. The TA position is a very prestigious and unique opportunity to meet leaders in synthetic biology (invited speakers) and to explore new projects while teaching synthetic biology lab techniques to a select group of talented students.

Cassandra Barrett shares Synthetic Biology with high school ambassadors for STEM

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Cassandra Barrett, a Biodesign graduate student in the Haynes lab, led a session on synthetic biology design for students from Arizona’s Chief Science Officer (CSO) Program on Wednesday, July 19, 2018. The event was hosted by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

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Research – JCR – An inhibitor screen identifies histone-modifying enzymes as mediators of polymer-mediated transgene expression from plasmid DNA

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An inhibitor screen identifies histone-modifying enzymes as mediators of polymer-mediated transgene expression from plasmid DNA
Christensen MD, Nitiyanandan R, Meraji S, Davis R, Godeshala S, Goklany S, Haynes KA, Rege K. (2018) Journal of Controlled Release. 286:210-223. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2018.06.030

Delivery of synthetic DNA into cells is a cornerstone technology for gene therapy, gene editing, and basic research. However, consistently efficient delivery of DNA into cells without the aid of engineered viruses still remains out of reach. In previous work, the Rege (chemical engineering) and Haynes (epigenetic engineering) labs reported that treating cells with a small molecule compound that disrupts the arrangement of protein-DNA complexes in the nucleus (chromatin) leads to enhanced uptake and expression of synthetic DNA. In our newest report, we describe the results of a screen of 89 different compounds that target different components of chromatin. We observed that that exogenous plasmids interact with endogenous core histone H3, and that inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDACs) increases nuclear entry of plasmid in UMUC3 bladder cancer cells.