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Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Seminar Series
11 May 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
We are delighted to bring you the next virtual Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Seminar Series. This will be an opportunity for you to hear, in detail, each month about the latest work from SynBioFSP funded projects, CSIRO-University Fellows and SynBioFSP PhD students.
Speaker #1: Dr Nina Pollak, Research Scientist, University of the Sunshine Coast and recent CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Fellow
From biological computation to tissue-engineered pseudo-organisms for bioremediation.
Bio: Dr Nina Pollak held a CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowship (2017-2021) focusing on smart biosensing and remediation technologies after completing her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Austria. Her research explored the expansion of synthetic biology into the field of tissue engineering, to produce novel multicellular structures, which can move and sense their environment in an organism-like fashion. Currently, Nina is a Research Scientist at the University of the Sunshine Coast developing rapid diagnostics for detection of viruses. This includes novel multiplex diagnostic technology now being applied to arboviral detection.
Abstract: Biological computation requires in vivo control of molecular behavior to progress development of autonomous devices in the detection and remediation technology sector. miRNA switches represent excellent, easily engineerable synthetic biology tools to achieve user-defined gene regulation. We employed a modular design strategy by engineering toxin-induced control of an enzyme scavenger. The ability to exert control of toxicity demonstrates potential for modular detoxification systems that provide a pathway to new therapeutic, biocomputing and bioremediation applications. Further, we investigated deoxiribozymes (DNAzymes) and aptamers as another biocomputing and biosensing system, due to the enzymatic properties of DNAzymes and the ligand-inducible conformational structures of aptamers. We described a novel method for providing ligand-responsive allosteric control to a DNAzyme using an RNA aptamer. Out of seven designs, three demonstrated effective toxin-responsive allosteric regulation with the ability to semi-quantitatively determine the toxin concentration. Finally, we sought to develop a novel bioremediation system, exploring the expansion of synthetic biology into the field of tissue engineering, to produce novel multicellular structures, which can move and sense their environment in an organism-like fashion. These “pseudo-organisms”, are constructed from biological and synthetic hybrid components using a 3D bioprinting approach and were designed to house synthetic biology components as vehicles for application delivery in the field of environmental detoxification.
Speaker #2: Dr Caitlin Cooper, Research Scientist, CSIRO Health & Biosecurity
Successful Genome Editing in Cane Toads and further developing CSIRO’s Genome Engineering Capability
Bio: My background is in genome engineering in agricultural species. My Ph.D focused on the impacts of milk from genome engineered goats and cows contained recombinant human antimicrobial proteins on intestinal infections in pigs. My first post-doc at the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory was aimed at decreasing the spread of pathogens from poultry products. I developed two lines of genetically engineered chickens which overexpressed native chicken antimicrobials which had reduced growth of several pathogens in their meat and eggs. I also invented a novel way of delivering gene editing tools known as sperm transfection assisted gene editing, or STAGE. During my second post-doctoral fellowship I expanded my focus to include not only poultry but also genome engineering in aquatic species, specifically on cane toads to develop novel genetic tools for invasive species. Currently I am a research scientist involved in multiple projects involving gene editing in agricultural and invasive species.
Abstract: The cane toad (Rhinella marina) is one of the best known and least loved of Australia’s invasive pest animals. The goal of this research was to develop protocols for CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in the cane toad to assess the potential for genetic biocontrol of an invasive vertebrate pest species. We have established a colony of wild caught cane toads and developed successful protocols for sperm and oocyte production to enable timed fertilization. Our first CRISPR/Cas9 target was the tyrosinase gene, that generates pigment in the skin, using microinjection of fertilized oocytes – three mosaic founders resulted. In subsequent experiments we adapted the STAGE (sperm transfection assisted gene editing) method for use in the cane toad. Using STAGE we were able to successfully knockout an important toxin production gene in the cane toad and generated over 10 founder animals.
Currently CSIRO is supporting a multi-business unit project to test a variety of genome engineering tools. These tools will be assessed based on ability to design and generate reagents, efficacy of the tools, and the freedom to operate in research and commercially with each tool. This project is looking across 8 different model species ranging from yeast, to wheat, and zebrafish. The projected outcomes of this project will provide CSIRO and our partners a clearer understanding of the current future landscape of gene editing from both a technical and commercial point of view.
Future events in this series are planned for the following date and time:
- June 2021 – Industrial Biotechnology
- July 2021 – Maximising Impact
- August 2021 – Health & Medicine
- September 2021 – Agriculture & Food
Please note that this seminar will be recorded.
Please direct any seminar series enquiries to SynBioFSP_Admin@csiro.au.