In an article published today in the journal Science, Camille Delebecque and Ariel Lindner (INSERM U1001, Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires, Faculté de Médecine Paris Descartes) in collaboration with Faisal Aldaye and Pamela Silver at Harvard Medical School broaden the toolbox of synthetic biology. By translating in vivo the principles of DNA nanotechnology, the team developed a new technology enabling to spatially control enzymes within living cells.
This project is part of Camille Delebecque PhD thesis in the Frontiers of Life Sciences ("Frontières du Vivant") Liliane Bettencout PhD program. (ED 474, dir François Taddei)
The ability to spatially control localization of enzymes within cells is of big interest for synthetic biology - the science that deals with engineering microorganisms to produce interesting compounds for humans. Clustering into micro-compartiments or onto scaffolds helps direct substrate flow in-between interacting proteins, limits cross-talk between signaling pathways, and generally increases specificity and yields of sequential metabolic reactions.
To achieve de novo modular control over spatial organization, the researchers borrowed and applied to biology a number of principles from DNA nanotech field. Bacteria were engineered to produce non-coding RNA designed to assemble and polymerize into large structures within cells. These structures were then used as docking sites for proteins involved in a synthetic bio-hydrogen pathway. A high increase in yield was observed as a function of scaffold geometries. Interestingly, this is also a totally modular system potentially applicable to other pathways.
This invention takes us one step closer to the idea of "synthetic organelles" and to the possibility of engineering microorganisms to help us reach sustainable goals. This new level of control in synthetic biology also opens the door to studying more fundamental research questions and new applications in medicine.
Download the AXA Paris Descartes project file
On Wednesday October 7, 2009, the AXA Research Fund, in collaboration with the Université Paris Descartes, inaugurated the AXA-Paris Descartes Chair in "A systems approach to individual differences in longevity".
Convinced that basic research is essential to advancing knowledge, the AXA Group, via the AXA Research Fund, is providing support to the scientific community to develop cutting-edge research that will provide a clearer understanding of the challenges posed by the increase in lifespan.
Endowed with €1,250,000 for a five-year period, the AXA-Paris Descartes Chair in "A systems approach to individual differences in longevity" aims to train a new generation of researchers with a scientific understanding of a longer lifespan, approached from a multidisciplinary point of view. Indeed, the major innovation of this Chair resides in the multidisciplinary approach it proposes, which to date is unique in the world.
The holders of the Chair, Linda Partridge,Thomas Kirkwood, François Taddei and James Vaupel, have different scientific backgrounds:demographics, genetics, nutrition, biology, etc. This diversity of approaches should make it possible to study accurately the numerous parameters that affect the longevity of an individual.
By providing its support for this Chair, the AXA Research Fund hopes it will offer researchers the resources necessary to advance knowledge on the mechanisms of ageing.
AXA-Paris Descartes Chair Press kit : in english / in french
François Taddei, Annette Baudisch, Linda Partridge, Thomas Kirkwood
After the official launch at Axa's headquarters, a two days conference at the CRI was organized between the chairholders' teams to start interacting.
AXA-Paris Descartes Chair meetings : 7-9 October 2009 program
James Vaupel and François Taddei, at the CRI.
Contact : François Taddei
tél + 33 44 41 25 22