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Synthetic Biology underpins advances in the bioeconomy

Biological systems - including the simplest cells - exhibit a broad range of functions to thrive in their environment. Research in the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology is focused on the possibility of engineering the underlying biochemical processes to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to sustainable energy. In particular, we model, analyse, design and build biological and biochemical systems in living cells and/or in cell extracts, both exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. 

As part of our research we develop novel methods to accelerate the celebrated Design-Build-Test-Learn synthetic biology cycle. As such research in the Centre for Synthetic Biology highly multi- and interdisciplinary covering computational modelling and machine learning approaches; automated platform development and genetic circuit engineering ; multi-cellular and multi-organismal interactions, including gene drive and genome engineering; metabolic engineering; in vitro/cell-free synthetic biology; engineered phages and directed evolution; and biomimetics, biomaterials and biological engineering.



BibTex format

author = {Lv, X and Zhang, C and Cui, S and Xu, X and Wang, L and Li, J and Du, G and Chen, J and Ledesma-Amaro, R and Liu, L},
doi = {10.1016/j.ymben.2020.05.011},
journal = {Metabolic Engineering},
pages = {96--105},
title = {Assembly of pathway enzymes by engineering functional membrane microdomain components for improved N-acetylglucosamine synthesis in Bacillus subtilis},
url = {},
volume = {61},
year = {2020}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Enzyme clustering can improve catalytic efficiency by facilitating the processing of intermediates. Functional membrane microdomains (FMMs) in bacteria can provide a platform for enzyme clustering. However, the amount of FMMs at the cell basal level is still facing great challenges in multi-enzyme immobilization. Here, using the nutraceutical N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) synthesis in Bacillus subtilis as a model, we engineered FMM components to improve the enzyme assembly in FMMs. First, by overexpression of the SPFH (stomatin-prohibitin-flotillin-HflC/K) domain and YisP protein, an enzyme involved in the synthesis of squalene-derived polyisoprenoid, the membrane order of cells was increased, as verified using di-4-ANEPPDHQ staining. Then, two heterologous enzymes, GlcNAc-6-phosphate N-acetyltransferase (GNA1) and haloacid dehalogenase-like phosphatases (YqaB), required for GlcNAc synthesis were assembled into FMMs, and the GlcNAc titer in flask was increased to 8.30 ± 0.57 g/L, which was almost three times that of the control strains. Notably, FMM component modification can maintain the OD600 in stationary phase and reduce cell lysis in the later stage of fermentation. These results reveal that the improved plasma membrane ordering achieved by the engineering FMM components could not only promote the enzyme assembly into FMMs, but also improve the cell fitness.
AU - Lv,X
AU - Zhang,C
AU - Cui,S
AU - Xu,X
AU - Wang,L
AU - Li,J
AU - Du,G
AU - Chen,J
AU - Ledesma-Amaro,R
AU - Liu,L
DO - 10.1016/j.ymben.2020.05.011
EP - 105
PY - 2020///
SN - 1096-7176
SP - 96
TI - Assembly of pathway enzymes by engineering functional membrane microdomain components for improved N-acetylglucosamine synthesis in Bacillus subtilis
T2 - Metabolic Engineering
UR -
UR -
UR -
VL - 61
ER -