Theses Doctoral

Low Cost Pathogen Detection with Yeast and Tools for Synthetic Multicellular Systems

Jimenez, Miguel

We can now manipulate the genetic material of living organism routinely and cheaply. This has inspired a burgeoning field of synthesis based on DNA as a building block. The development of this new synthetic field has mirrored the trajectory of synthetic organic chemistry from small molecular systems to complex macromolecular assemblies. At first, this field of synthetic biology delivered recombinant proteins that enhanced our understanding of the structure-function relationship of biological macromolecules. Now, as the synthetic tools and analysis methods have come of age, synthetic whole-cell and multicellular systems have come within reach. In Chapter 1 we review the significant advances in DNA synthesis and analysis that have brought us to this point.
In this work, we first ask what practical applications will benefit most from the unique qualities of synthetic whole-cell system, such as their ability to replicate, sense and respond with molecular specificity. In Chapter 2, we implement a pathogen detection platform based solely on genetically modified yeast. This approach holds the potential to deliver ultra low-cost sensors that can be used and produced at the point-of-care. In Chapter 3, we develop methods to target these yeast-based sensors for the detection of any peptide biomarker of choice.
We next look forward to the potential of synthetic multicellular systems. While natural multicellular systems can be directly manipulated, our ability to rationally build multicellular systems from the bottom-up is still in its infancy. There still remain gaps in the available tools to make and analyze such synthetic systems. In Chapter 4, we leverage the explosion of available genomic databases to uncover a highly extensible set of cell-cell signaling modules. In Chapter 5, we implement ratiometric fluorescent tags to track mixed cell populations in multiplex. Together these components will be useful in implementing and analyzing synthetic communication networks that will be key components of advanced synthetic multicellular systems.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Cornish, Virginia W.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 16, 2016