305 results found
Webb A, Allan F, Kelwick R, et al., 2022, Specific Nucleic AcId Ligation for the detection of Schistosomes: SNAILS, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Vol: 16(7):e0010632, ISSN: 1935-2727
Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia or snail fever, is a debilitating neglected tropical disease (NTD), caused by parasitic trematode flatworms of the genus Schistosoma, that has an annual mortality rate of 280,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa alone. Schistosomiasis is transmitted via contact with water bodies that are home to the intermediate host snail which shed the infective cercariae into the water. Schistosome lifecycles are complex, and while not all schistosome species cause human disease, endemic regions also typically feature animal infecting schistosomes that can have broader economic and/or food security implications. Therefore, the development of species-specific Schistosoma detection technologies may help to inform evidence-based local environmental, food security and health systems policy making. Crucially, schistosomiasis disproportionally affects low- and middle-income (LMIC) countries and for that reason, environmental screening of water bodies for schistosomes may aid with the targeting of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions and preventive chemotherapy to regions at highest risk of schistosomiasis transmission, and to monitor the effectiveness of such interventions at reducing the risk over time. To this end, we developed a DNA-based biosensor termed Specific Nucleic AcId Ligation for the detection of Schistosomes or ‘SNAILS’. Here we show that ‘SNAILS’ enables species-specific detection from genomic DNA (gDNA) samples that were collected from the field in endemic areas.
Dixon TA, Freemont PS, Johnson RA, et al., 2022, A global forum on synthetic biology: the need for international engagement, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 13
Gil Rosa B, Akingbade OE, Guo X, et al., 2022, Multiplexed immunosensors for point-of-care diagnostic applications, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Vol: 203, ISSN: 0956-5663
Accurate, reliable, and cost-effective immunosensors are clinically important for the early diagnosis and monitoring of progressive diseases, and multiplexed sensing is a promising strategy for the next generation of diagnostics. This strategy allows for the simultaneous detection and quantification of multiple biomarkers with significantly enhanced reproducibility and reliability, whilst requiring smaller sample volumes, fewer materials, and shorter average analysis time for individual biomarkers than individual tests. In this opinionated review, we compare different techniques for the development of multiplexed immunosensors. We review the state-of-the-art approaches in the field of multiplexed immunosensors using electrical, electrochemical, and optical methods. The barriers that prevent translating this sensing strategy into clinics are outlined together with the potential solutions. We also share our vision on how multiplexed immunosensors will continue their evolution in the coming years.
Cordery R, Reeves L, Zhou J, et al., 2022, Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by children to contacts in schools and households: a prospective cohort and environmental sampling study in London, The Lancet Microbe, ISSN: 2666-5247
Background: Assessing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by children in schools is of critical importance to inform public health action. We assessed frequency of acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 by contacts of pupils with COVID-19 in schools and households, and quantified SARS-CoV-2 shed into air and onto fomites in both settings.Methods: Incidents involving exposure to at least one index pupil with COVID-19 in 8 schools were identified between October 2020-July 2021 (prevailing variants, original, alpha and delta). Weekly PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 was undertaken on immediate classroom contacts (the “bubble”), non-bubble school contacts, and household contacts of index pupils, supported by genome sequencing, and on surface and air samples from school and home environments.Findings: Secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in 28 bubble contacts, representing 10 bubble classes (participation rate 8.8%, IQR 4.6-15.3%). Across 8 non-bubble classes, 3/62 pupils tested positive but these were unrelated to the original index case (participation rate 22.5%, IQR 9.7-32.3%). All three were asymptomatic and tested positive in one setting on the same day. In contrast, secondary transmission to previously-negative household contacts from infected index pupils was 17.1% (6/35) rising to 27.7% (13/47) when considering all potentialinfections in household contacts. Environmental contamination with SARS-CoV-2 was rare in schools; fomite SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 4/189 (2.1%) samples in bubble classrooms, 2/127 (1.6%) samples in non-bubble classrooms, and 5/130 (3.8%) samples in washrooms. This contrasted with fomites in households, where SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 60/248 (24.2%) bedroom samples, 66/241 (27.4%) communal room samples, and 21/188 (11.2%) bathroom samples. Air sampling identified SARS-CoV-2 RNA in just 1/68 (1.5%) of school air samples, compared with 21/85 (24.7%) of air samples taken in homes.Interpretation: There was no evidence of large scale SARS-Co
Wong G, Lim LR, Tan YQ, et al., 2022, Reconstituting the complete biosynthesis of D-lysergic acid in yeast, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 13
Singanayagam A, Hakki S, Dunning J, et al., 2022, Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 22, Pages: 183-195, ISSN: 1473-3099
BackgroundThe SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant is highly transmissible and spreading globally, including in populations with high vaccination rates. We aimed to investigate transmission and viral load kinetics in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with mild delta variant infection in the community.MethodsBetween Sept 13, 2020, and Sept 15, 2021, 602 community contacts (identified via the UK contract-tracing system) of 471 UK COVID-19 index cases were recruited to the Assessment of Transmission and Contagiousness of COVID-19 in Contacts cohort study and contributed 8145 upper respiratory tract samples from daily sampling for up to 20 days. Household and non-household exposed contacts aged 5 years or older were eligible for recruitment if they could provide informed consent and agree to self-swabbing of the upper respiratory tract. We analysed transmission risk by vaccination status for 231 contacts exposed to 162 epidemiologically linked delta variant-infected index cases. We compared viral load trajectories from fully vaccinated individuals with delta infection (n=29) with unvaccinated individuals with delta (n=16), alpha (B.1.1.7; n=39), and pre-alpha (n=49) infections. Primary outcomes for the epidemiological analysis were to assess the secondary attack rate (SAR) in household contacts stratified by contact vaccination status and the index cases’ vaccination status. Primary outcomes for the viral load kinetics analysis were to detect differences in the peak viral load, viral growth rate, and viral decline rate between participants according to SARS-CoV-2 variant and vaccination status.FindingsThe SAR in household contacts exposed to the delta variant was 25% (95% CI 18–33) for fully vaccinated individuals compared with 38% (24–53) in unvaccinated individuals. The median time between second vaccine dose and study recruitment in fully vaccinated contacts was longer for infected individuals (median 101 days [IQR 74–120]) than for unin
Vickers CE, Freemont PS, 2022, Pandemic preparedness: synthetic biology and publicly funded biofoundries can rapidly accelerate response time COMMENT, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 13
Haines MC, Carling B, Marshall J, et al., 2022, basicsynbio and the BASIC SEVA collection: Software and vectors for an established DNA assembly method
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Standardized DNA assembly methods utilizing modular components provide a powerful framework to explore design spaces and iterate through Design-Build-Test-Learn cycles. Biopart Assembly Standard for Idempotent Cloning (BASIC) DNA assembly uses modular parts and linkers, is highly accurate, easy to automate, free for academic and commercial use, while enabling simple hierarchical assemblies through an idempotent format. These features facilitate various applications including pathway engineering, ribosome binding site tuning, fusion protein engineering and multiplexed gRNA expression. In this work we present basicsynbio, an open-source software encompassing a Web App (<jats:ext-link xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href="https://basicsynbio.web.app/">https://basicsynbio.web.app/</jats:ext-link>) and Python Package (<jats:ext-link xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href="https://github.com/LondonBiofoundry/basicsynbio">https://github.com/LondonBiofoundry/basicsynbio</jats:ext-link>). With basicsynbio, users can access commonly used BASIC parts and linkers while robustly designing new parts and assemblies with exception handling for common design errors. Users can export sequence data and create build instructions for manual or acoustic liquid-handling platforms. The generation of build instructions relies on the BasicBuild Open Standard which is easily parsed for bespoke workflows and is serializable in Java Script Object Notation for transfer and storage. We demonstrate basicsynbio by assembling a collection of 30 vectors using various sequences including modules from the Standard European Vector Architecture (SEVA). The BASIC SEVA collection is compatible with BASIC and Golden Gate using BsaI. It encompasses vectors containing six antibiotic resistance mark
Lalvani A, Hakki S, Singanayagam A, et al., 2022, Transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 among fully vaccinated individuals reply, LANCET INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol: 22, Pages: 18-19, ISSN: 1473-3099
Han P, Go MK, Chow JY, et al., 2021, A high-throughput pipeline for scalable kit-free RNA extraction, Scientific Reports, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2045-2322
An overreliance on commercial, kit-based RNA extraction in the molecular diagnoses of infectious disease presents a challenge in the event of supply chain disruptions and can potentially hinder testing capacity in times of need. In this study, we adapted a well-established, robust TRIzol-based RNA extraction protocol into a high-throughput format through miniaturization and automation. The workflow was validated by RT-qPCR assay for SARS-CoV-2 detection to illustrate its scalability without interference to downstream diagnostic sensitivity and accuracy. This semi-automated, kit-free approach offers a versatile alternative to prevailing integrated solid-phase RNA extraction proprietary systems, with the added advantage of improved cost-effectiveness for high volume acquisition of quality RNA whether for use in clinical diagnoses or for diverse molecular applications.
Cell-free gene expression (CFE) emerged as an alternative approach to living cells for specific applications in protein synthesis and labelling for structural biology and proteomics studies. CFE has since been repurposed as a versatile technology for synthetic biology and bioengineering. However, taking full advantage of this technology requires in-depth understanding of its fundamental workflow beyond existing protocols. This Primer provides new practitioners with a comprehensive, detailed and actionable guide to best practices in CFE, to inform research in the laboratory at the state of the art. We focus on Escherichia coli-based CFE systems, which remain the primary platform for efficient CFE. Producing proteins, biomanufacturing therapeutics, developing sensors and prototyping genetic circuits illustrate the broader utility and opportunities provided by this practical introduction to CFE. With its extensive functionality and portability, CFE is becoming a powerful and enabling research tool for biotechnology.
Mercer T, Almond N, Chain P, et al., 2021, A roadmap to better COVID-19 testing from the Coronavirus Standards Working Group
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Testing has been central to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the accuracy of testing relies on standards, including reference materials, proficiency testing schemes, and information and reporting guidelines. The use of standards is a simple, inexpensive, and effective method to ensure reliable test results that inform clinical and public health decisions. Here we describe the central role of standards during the COVID-19 pandemic, where they have enabled population-scale screening, genomic surveillance and measures of immune protection measures. Given these benefits, the Coronavirus Standards Working Group (CSWG) was formed to coordinate standards in SARS-CoV-2 testing. This network of scientists has developed best-practices, reference materials, and conducted proficiency studies to harmonize laboratory performance. We propose that this coordinated development of standards should be prioritized as a key early step in the public health response to future pandemics that is necessary for reliable, large-scale testing for infectious disease.</jats:p>
Farzaneh T, Freemont PS, 2021, Biofoundries are a nucleating hub for industrial translation, SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY, Vol: 6, Pages: 1-6
Pathania M, Tosi T, Millership C, et al., 2021, Structural basis for the inhibition of the Bacillus subtilis c-di-AMP cyclase CdaA by the phosphoglucomutase GlmM, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol: 297, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 0021-9258
Cyclic-di-adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) is an important nucleotide signaling molecule that plays a key role in osmotic regulation in bacteria. c-di-AMP is produced from two molecules of ATP by proteins containing a diadenylate cyclase (DAC) domain. In Bacillus subtilis, the main c-di-AMP cyclase, CdaA, is a membrane-linked cyclase with an N-terminal transmembrane domain followed by the cytoplasmic DAC domain. As both high and low levels of c-di-AMP have a negative impact on bacterial growth, the cellular levels of this signaling nucleotide are tightly regulated. Here we investigated how the activity of the B. subtilis CdaA is regulated by the phosphoglucomutase GlmM, which has been shown to interact with the c-di-AMP cyclase. Using the soluble B. subtilis CdaACD catalytic domain and purified full-length GlmM or the GlmMF369 variant lacking the C-terminal flexible domain 4, we show that the cyclase and phosphoglucomutase form a stable complex in vitro and that GlmM is a potent cyclase inhibitor. We determined the crystal structure of the individual B. subtilis CdaACD and GlmM homodimers and of the CdaACD:GlmMF369 complex. In the complex structure, a CdaACD dimer is bound to a GlmMF369 dimer in such a manner that GlmM blocks the oligomerization of CdaACD and formation of active head-to-head cyclase oligomers, thus suggesting a mechanism by which GlmM acts as a cyclase inhibitor. As the amino acids at the CdaACD:GlmM interphase are conserved, we propose that the observed mechanism of inhibition of CdaA by GlmM may also be conserved among Firmicutes.
Crone M, Randell P, Herm Z, et al., 2021, Rapid design and implementation of an adaptive pooling workflow for SARS-CoV-2 testing in an NHS diagnostic laboratory: a proof-of-concept study, Wellcome Open Research, Vol: 6, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 2398-502X
Background: Diagnostic laboratories are currently required to provide routine testing of asymptomatic staff and patients as a part of their clinical screening for SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, these cohorts display very different disease prevalence from symptomatic individuals and testing capacity for asymptomatic screening is often limited. Group testing is frequently proposed as a possible solution to address this; however, proposals neglect the technical and operational feasibility of implementation in a front-line diagnostic laboratory.Methods: Between October and December 2020, as a seven-week proof of concept, we took into account scientific, technical and operational feasibility to design and implement an adaptive pooling strategy in an NHS diagnostic laboratory in London (UK). We assessed the impact of pooling on analytical sensitivity and modelled the impact of prevalence on pooling strategy. We then considered the operational constraints to model the potential gains in capacity and the requirements for additional staff and infrastructure. Finally, we developed a LIMS-agnostic laboratory automation workflow and software solution and tested the technical feasibility of our adaptive pooling workflow.Results: First, we determined the analytical sensitivity of the implemented SARS-CoV-2 assay to be 250 copies/mL. We then determined that, in a setting with limited analyser capacity, the testing capacity could be increased by two-fold with pooling, however, in a setting with limited reagents, this could rise to a five-fold increase. These capacity increases could be realized with modest additional resource and staffing requirements whilst utilizing up to 76% fewer plastic consumables and 90% fewer reagents. Finally, we successfully implemented a plate-based pooling workflow and tested 920 patient samples using the reagents that would usually be required to process just 222 samples.Conclusions: Adaptive pooled testing is a scientifically, technically and operatio
Toh M, Chengan K, Hanson T, et al., 2021, A High-Yield Streptomyces Transcription-Translation Toolkit for Synthetic Biology and Natural Product Applications, JOVE-JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS, ISSN: 1940-087X
Moore S, Tosi T, Bell D, et al., 2021, High-yield ‘one-pot’ biosynthesis of raspberry ketone, a high-value fine chemical, Synthetic Biology, Vol: 6, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 2397-7000
Cell-free extract and purified enzyme-based systems provide an attractive solution to study biosynthetic strategies towards a range of chemicals. 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-butan-2-one, also known as raspberry ketone, is the major fragrance component of raspberry fruit and is used as a natural additive in the food and sports industry. Current industrial processing of the natural form of raspberry ketone involves chemical extraction with a yield of ~1-4 mg kg-1 of fruit. Due to toxicity, microbial production provides only low yields of up to 5-100 mg L-1. Herein, we report an efficient cell-free strategy to probe a synthetic enzyme pathway that converts either L-tyrosine or the precursor, 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-buten-2-one (HBA), into raspberry ketone at up to 100% conversion. As part of this strategy, it is essential to recycle inexpensive cofactors. Specifically, the final enzyme step in the pathway is catalysed by raspberry ketone/zingerone synthase (RZS1), an NADPH-dependent double bond reductase. To relax cofactor specificity towards NADH, the preferred cofactor for cell-free biosynthesis, we identify a variant (G191D) with strong activity with NADH. We implement the RZS1 G191D variant within a ‘one-pot’ cell-free reaction to produce raspberry ketone at high-yield (61 mg L-1), which provides an alternative route to traditional microbial production. In conclusion, our cell-free strategy complements the growing interest in engineering synthetic enzyme cascades towards industrially relevant value-added chemicals.
Moore SJ, Hleba YB, Bischoff S, et al., 2021, Refactoring of a synthetic raspberry ketone pathway with EcoFlex (vol 20, 116, 2021), Microbial Cell Factories, Vol: 20, Pages: 1-2, ISSN: 1475-2859
Rowan AG, May P, Badhan A, et al., 2021, Optimized protocol for a quantitative SARS-CoV-2 duplex RT-qPCR assay with internal human sample sufficiency control., Journal of Virological Methods, Vol: 294, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 0166-0934
There is growing evidence that measurement of SARS-CoV-2 viral copy number can inform clinical and public health management of SARS-CoV-2 carriers and COVID-19 patients. Here we show that quantification of SARS-CoV-2 is feasible in a clinical setting, using a duplex RT-qPCR assay which targets both the E gene (Charité assay) and a human RNA transcript, RNase P (CDC assay) as an internal sample sufficiency control. Samples in which RNase P is not amplified indicate that sample degradation has occurred, PCR inhibitors are present, RNA extraction has failed or swabbing technique was insufficient. This important internal control reveals that 2.4% of nasopharyngeal swabs (15/618 samples) are inadequate for SARS-CoV-2 testing which, if not identified, could result in false negative results. We show that our assay is linear across at least 7 logs and is highly reproducible, enabling the conversion of Cq values to viral copy numbers using a standard curve. Furthermore, the SARS-CoV-2 copy number was independent of the RNase P copy number indicating that the per-swab viral copy number is not dependent on sampling- further allowing comparisons between samples. The ability to quantify SARS-CoV-2 viral copy number will provide an important opportunity for viral burden-guided public health and clinical decision making.
Kelwick RJR, Webb AJ, Wang Y, et al., 2021, AL-PHA beads: bioplastic-based protease biosensors for global health applications, Materials Today, Vol: 47, Pages: 25-37, ISSN: 1369-7021
Proteases are multi-functional proteolytic enzymes that have complex roles in human health and disease. Therefore, the development of protease biosensors can be beneficial to global health applications. To this end, we developed Advanced proteoLytic detector PolyHydroxyAlkanoates (AL-PHA) beads – a library of over 20 low-cost, biodegradable, bioplastic-based protease biosensors. Broadly, these biosensors utilise PhaC-reporter fusion proteins that are bound to microbially manufactured polyhydroxyalkanoate beads. In the presence of a specific protease, superfolder green fluorescent reporter proteins are cleaved from the AL-PHA beads – resulting in a loss of bead fluorescence. The Tobacco Etch Virus (TEV) AL-PHA biosensor detected the proteolytic activity of at least 1.85 pM of AcTEV. AL-PHA beads were also engineered to detect cercarial elastase from Schistosoma mansoni-derived cercarial transformation fluid (SmCTF) samples, as well as cancer-associated metalloproteinases in extracellular vesicle and cell-conditioned media samples. We envision that AL-PHA beads could be further developed for use in resource-limited settings.
Freemont P, 2021, Refactoring of a synthetic raspberry ketone pathway with EcoFlex, Microbial Cell Factories, Vol: 20, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 1475-2859
Background A key focus of synthetic biology is to develop microbial or cell-free based biobased routes to value-added chemicals such as fragrances. Originally, we developed the EcoFlex system, a Golden Gate toolkit, to study genes/pathways flexibly using Escherichia coli heterologous expression. In this current work, we sought to use EcoFlex to optimise a synthetic raspberry ketone biosynthetic pathway. Raspberry ketone is a high-value (~ £20,000 kg−1) fine chemical farmed from raspberry (Rubeus rubrum) fruit.Results By applying a synthetic biology led design-build-test-learn cycle approach, we refactor the raspberry ketone pathway from a low level of productivity (0.2 mg/L), to achieve a 65-fold (12.9 mg/L) improvement in production. We perform this optimisation at the prototype level (using microtiter plate cultures) with E. coli DH10β, as a routine cloning host. The use of E. coli DH10β facilitates the Golden Gate cloning process for the screening of combinatorial libraries. In addition, we also newly establish a novel colour-based phenotypic screen to identify productive clones quickly from solid/liquid culture.Conclusions Our findings provide a stable raspberry ketone pathway that relies upon a natural feedstock (L-tyrosine) and uses only constitutive promoters to control gene expression. In conclusion we demonstrate the capability of EcoFlex for fine-tuning a model fine chemical pathway and provide a range of newly characterised promoter tools gene expression in E. coli.
Crone M, Randell P, Herm Z, et al., 2021, Design and Implementation of An Adaptive Pooling Workflow for SARS-CoV-2 Testing in an NHS Diagnostic Laboratory
Wu C-H, Rismondo J, Morgan RML, et al., 2021, Bacillus subtilis YngB contributes to wall teichoic acid glucosylation and glycolipid formation during anaerobic growth, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol: 296, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 0021-9258
UTP-glucose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferases are enzymes that produce UDP-glucose from UTP and glucose-1-phosphate. In Bacillus subtilis 168, UDP-glucose is required for the decoration of wall teichoic acid (WTA) with glucose residues and the formation of glucolipids. The B. subtilis UGPase GtaB is essential for UDP-glucose production under standard aerobic growth conditions, and gtaB mutants display severe growth and morphological defects. However, bioinformatics predictions indicate that two other UTP-glucose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferases are present in B. subtilis. Here, we investigated the function of one of them named YngB. The crystal structure of YngB revealed that the protein has the typical fold and all necessary active site features of a functional UGPase. Furthermore, UGPase activity could be demonstrated in vitro using UTP and glucose-1-phosphate as substrates. Expression of YngB from a synthetic promoter in a B. subtilis gtaB mutant resulted in the reintroduction of glucose residues on WTA and production of glycolipids, demonstrating that the enzyme can function as UGPase in vivo. When WT and mutant B. subtilis strains were grown under anaerobic conditions, YngB-dependent glycolipid production and glucose decorations on WTA could be detected, revealing that YngB is expressed from its native promoter under anaerobic condition. Based on these findings, along with the structure of the operon containing yngB and the transcription factor thought to be required for its expression, we propose that besides WTA, potentially other cell wall components might be decorated with glucose residues during oxygen-limited growth condition.
Moore SJ, Lai H-E, Chee S-M, et al., 2021, A Streptomyces venezuelae Cell-Free Toolkit for Synthetic Biology, ACS SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY, Vol: 10, Pages: 402-411, ISSN: 2161-5063
Lossi NS, Manoli E, Foerster A, et al., 2021, The HsiB1C1 (TssB-TssC) complex of the pseudomonas aeruginosa Type VI secretion system forms a bacteriophage tail sheathlike structure, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol: 288, Pages: 7536-7548, ISSN: 0021-9258
Protein secretion systems in Gram-negative bacteria evolved into a variety of molecular nanomachines. They are related to cell envelope complexes, which are involved in assembly of surface appendages or transport of solutes. They are classified as types, the most recent addition being the type VI secretion system (T6SS). The T6SS displays similarities to bacteriophage tail, which drives DNA injection into bacteria. The Hcp protein is related to the T4 bacteriophage tail tube protein gp19, whereas VgrG proteins structurally resemble the gp27/gp5 puncturing device of the phage. The tube and spike of the phage are pushed through the bacterial envelope upon contraction of a tail sheath composed of gp18. In Vibrio cholerae it was proposed that VipA and VipB assemble into a tail sheathlike structure. Here we confirm these previous data by showing that HsiB1 and HsiC1 of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa H1-T6SS assemble into tubules resulting from stacking of cogwheel-like structures showing predominantly 12-fold symmetry. The internal diameter of the cogwheels is ∼100 Å, which is large enough to accommodate an Hcp tube whose external diameter has been reported to be 85 Å. The N-terminal 212 residues of HsiC1 are sufficient to form a stable complex with HsiB1, but the C terminus of HsiC1 is essential for the formation of the tubelike structure. Bioinformatics analysis suggests that HsiC1 displays similarities to gp18-like proteins in its C-terminal region. In conclusion, we provide further structural and mechanistic insights into the T6SS and show that a phage sheathlike structure is likely to be a conserved element across all T6SSs.
Young R, Haines M, Storch M, et al., 2021, Combinatorial metabolic pathway assembly approaches and toolkits for modular assembly, Metabolic Engineering, Vol: 63, Pages: 81-101, ISSN: 1096-7176
Synthetic Biology is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that is primarily built upon foundational advances in molecular biology combined with engineering design principles such as modularity and interoperability. The field considers living systems as programmable at the genetic level and has been defined by the development of new platform technologies and methodological advances. A key concept driving the field is the Design-Build-Test-Learn cycle which provides a systematic framework for building new biological systems. One major application area for synthetic biology is biosynthetic pathway engineering that requires the modular assembly of different genetic regulatory elements and biosynthetic enzymes. In this review we provide an overview of modular DNA assembly and describe and compare the plethora of in vitro and in vivo assembly methods for combinatorial pathway engineering. Considerations for part design and methods for enzyme balancing are also presented, and we briefly discuss alternatives to intracellular pathway assembly including microbial consortia and cell-free systems for biosynthesis. Finally, we describe computational tools and automation for pathway design and assembly and argue that a deeper understanding of the many different variables of genetic design, pathway regulation and cellular metabolism will allow more predictive pathway design and engineering.
Wu C-H, Rismondo J, Morgan RML, et al., 2020, <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> YngB contributes to wall teichoic acid glucosylation and glycolipid formation during anaerobic growth, Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>UTP-glucose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferases (UGPases) are enzymes that produce UDP-glucose from UTP and glucose-1-phosphate. In <jats:italic>Bacillus subtilis</jats:italic> 168, UDP-glucose is required for the decoration of wall teichoic acid (WTA) with glucose residues and the formation of glucolipids. The <jats:italic>B. subtilis</jats:italic> UGPase GtaB is essential for UDP-glucose production under standard aerobic growth conditions, and <jats:italic>gtaB</jats:italic> mutants display severe growth and morphological defects. However, bioinformatics predictions indicate that two other UGPases, are present in <jats:italic>B. subtilis</jats:italic>. Here, we investigated the function of one of them named YngB. The crystal structure of YngB revealed that the protein has the typical fold and all necessary active site features of a functional UGPase. Furthermore, UGPase activity could be demonstrated <jats:italic>in vitro</jats:italic> using UTP and glucose-1-phosphate as substrates. Expression of YngB from a synthetic promoter in a <jats:italic>B. subtilis gtaB</jats:italic> mutant resulted in the reintroduction of glucose residues on WTA and production of glycolipids, demonstrating that the enzyme can function as UGPase <jats:italic>in vivo</jats:italic>. When wild-type and mutant <jats:italic>B. subtilis</jats:italic> strains were grown under anaerobic conditions, YngB-dependent glycolipid production and glucose decorations on WTA could be detected, revealing that YngB is expressed from its native promoter under anaerobic condition. Based on these findings, along with the structure of the operon containing <jats:italic>yngB</jats:italic> and the transcription factor thought to be required for its expression, we propose that besides WTA, potentially other cell wall components might be decorated with g
Li H, Barnaghi P, Skillman S, et al., 2020, Machine learning for risk analysis of Urinary Tract Infection in people with dementia, Publisher: arXiv
The Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are one of the top reasons for unplannedhospital admissions in people with dementia, and if detected early, they can betimely treated. However, the standard UTI diagnosis tests, e.g. urine tests,will be only taken if the patients are clinically suspected of having UTIs.This causes a delay in diagnosis and treatment of the conditions and in somecases like people with dementia, the symptoms can be difficult to observe.Delay in detection and treatment of dementia is one of the key reasons forunplanned hospital admissions in people with dementia. To address these issues,we have developed a technology-assisted monitoring system, which is a Class 1medical device. The system uses off-the-shelf and low-cost in-home sensorydevices to monitor environmental and physiological data of people with dementiawithin their own homes. We have designed a machine learning model to use thedata and provide risk analysis for UTIs. We use a semi-supervised learningmodel which leverage the environmental data, i.e. the data collected from themotion sensors, smart plugs and network-connected body temperature monitoringdevices in the home, to detect patterns that can show the risk of UTIs. Sincethe data is noisy and partially labelled, we combine the neural networks andprobabilistic neural networks to train an auto-encoder, which is to extract thegeneral representation of the data. We will demonstrate our smart homemanagement by videos/online, and show how our model can pick up the UTI relatedpatterns.
Moore SJ, Lai H-E, Chee S-M, et al., 2020, A <i>Streptomyces venezuelae</i> Cell-Free Toolkit for Synthetic Biology
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Prokaryotic cell-free coupled transcription-translation (TX-TL) systems are emerging as a powerful tool to examine natural product biosynthetic pathways in a test-tube. The key advantages of this approach are the reduced experimental timescales and controlled reaction conditions. In order to realise this potential, specialised cell-free systems in organisms enriched for biosynthetic gene clusters, with strong protein production and well-characterised synthetic biology tools, is essential. The <jats:italic>Streptomyces</jats:italic> genus is a major source of natural products. To study enzymes and pathways from <jats:italic>Streptomyces</jats:italic>, we originally developed a homologous <jats:italic>Streptomyces</jats:italic> cell-free system to provide a native protein folding environment, a high G+C (%) tRNA pool and an active background metabolism. However, our initial yields were low (36 μg/mL) and showed a high level of batch-to-batch variation. Here, we present an updated high-yield and robust <jats:italic>Streptomyces</jats:italic> TX-TL protocol, reaching up to yields of 266 μg/mL of expressed recombinant protein. To complement this, we rapidly characterise a range of DNA parts with different reporters, express high G+C (%) biosynthetic genes and demonstrate an initial proof of concept for combined transcription, translation and biosynthesis of <jats:italic>Streptomyces</jats:italic> metabolic pathways in a single ‘one-pot’ reaction.</jats:p>
Crone MA, Priestman M, Ciechonska M, et al., 2020, A role for Biofoundries in rapid development and validation of automated SARS-CoV-2 clinical diagnostics (vol 11, 4464, 2020), NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2041-1723
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