Theses Doctoral

Engineering yeast G protein-coupled receptors for biosensor development

Matragrano, Joseph Antonio

The ability to sense and respond to environmental stimuli is essential for the survival of all living things. As a result, nature has evolved an uncountable number of ways to detect environmental signals. At the cellular level, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are used by eukaryotes, including fungi and humans, to convert extracellular molecular binding events into intracellular responses. Recently, synthetic biologists have shown that biological sensing systems can be repurposed to suit human needs, developing tools such as diagnostic devices and drug screening platforms. In this thesis, I present work exploring the potential of fungal GPCRs to be used as sensing elements in yeast-based biosensors.

Chapter 1 gives background information related to synthetic biology, biosensors, and yeast signaling pathways. Chapter 2 describes the development of the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae into a diagnostic device for detection of fungal pathogens, using fungal GPCRs. In Chapter 3 I demonstrate that the substrate specificity of fungal GPCRs can be altered using directed evolution. Chapter 4 describes experiments further probing the native binding abilities of fungal GPCRs, specifically examining protein ligands. Finally, in Chapter 5 we move beyond fungal GPCRs and engineer yeast to detect other stimuli, in the context of an engineered living material.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Cornish, Virginia W.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 14, 2020