CONTROLLING BACTERIAL TRANSCRIPTION WITH THE EUKARYOTIC TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR QF

Travis Seamons – Research on Capitol Hill 2021

(Mentor: Tara Deans)

Synthetic biology engineers bacteria to produce therapeutics, synthesize biofuels, and treat disease. Realizing these applications, however, requires the development of tools that allow orthogonal control of gene expression. Here, we report the successful development of a novel genetic tool in Escherichia coli (E. coli). Namely, the QUAS/QF system found naturally in the fungus Neurospora crassa is shown to function in E. coli to control gene expression. The activating protein (QF) functions in eukaryotes by binding to an activating sequence (QUAS). When QF binds to QUAS, gene expression is activated. We demonstrate similar behavior in E. coli. These findings demonstrate a paradigm shift in prokaryotic synthetic biology by reversing the current approach of moving genetic parts between organisms. This work introduces new gene regulation systems that may facilitate future applications of engineered bacteria in medicine and industry.

Senate Representative: Jani Iwamota

House Representative: Brian King