Challenges and Opportunities in Synthetic Biology
Wednesday, April 30, 2014: 7:00 PM
Grand Ballroom D-E, lobby level (Hilton Clearwater Beach)
Huimin Zhao, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Synthetic biology is the deliberate design of novel biological systems and organisms that draws on principles elucidated by biologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers.  It is a rapidly growing area with broad applications in medical, chemical, food, and agricultural industries.  In this talk, I will briefly discuss the challenges and opportunities in synthetic biology and highlight our recent work on the development and application of novel synthetic biology tools (1-4).  Specifically, I will discuss two projects including: (a) activating silent gene clusters for novel natural product discovery, and (b) developing new pathway engineering tools for cell factory design.

1. Z. Shao, H. Zhao, and H. Zhao. “DNA Assembler, an in vivo Genetic Method for Rapid Construction of Biochemical Pathways.” Nucleic Acids Research, 37, e16 (2009).

2. J. Du, Y. Yuan, T. Si, Lian, J., and H. Zhao. “Customized Optimization of Metabolic Pathways by Combinatorial Transcriptional Engineering (COMPACTER).” Nucleic Acids Research, 40, e142 (2012).

3. Z. Shao, G. Rao, C. Li, Z. Abil, Y. Luo, and H. Zhao. “Refactoring the Silent Spectinabilin Biosynthetic Gene Cluster Using a Plug-and-Play Scaffold.” ACS Synthetic Biology, 2, 662-669 (2013).

4. Y. Luo, H. Huang, J. Liang, M. Wang, L. Lu, Z. Shao, R. Cobb, and H. Zhao. “Activation and Characterization of a Cryptic Polycyclic Tetramate Macrolactam Biosynthetic Gene Cluster.” Nature Communications, DOI:10.1038/ncomms3894.