Synthetic Biology grant success

Professor David Sherratt in the Department, along with Professor Petra Schwille at the University of Technology Dresden and Professor Cees Dekker at Delft University of Technology, has been awarded a 3 year grant from the European Science Foundation (ESF).

The award is part of the ESF's EUROCORES Synthetic Biology Initiative which to date has approved funding for four proposals Europe-wide. The funding at Oxford will be provided by the UK's Biological and Biotechnology Sciences Research Council.

E.coli undergoing cell division. Two proteins that are important for chromosome segregation and cell division are shown stained with flourescent markers

E.coli undergoing cell division. Two proteins that are important for chromosome segregation and cell division are shown stained with flourescent markers

The three groups of researchers will use an engineering approach to understand how proteins that control cell division behave inside a living cell, and in particular where exactly they are found and how they interact with other cell components.

They aim to dissect the molecular mechanisms by which the 12 components of the Escherichia coli cell division machinery, the 'divisome', assemble sequentially in normal cells. Using state-of-the-art cell biology techniques, they will determine the quantities of the different divisome components at the developing partition.

Knowledge gained from this work will be applied to the engineering step, in which the researchers intend to recreate and re-programme the cell division-chromosome segregation processes in synthetic systems. Professor Schwille will be working in liposome 'protocells' and Professor Dekker in cells whose shape and growth can be controlled in nanofluidic devices.

Synthetic Biology can be considered as the design, re-design and construction of new biological functions and systems (see www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/postpn298.pdf). It requires specialised approaches which may not be available in the UK. The ESF's EUROCORES programmes enable researchers in different European countries to develop collaborations in areas such as synthetic biology where international scale and scope are required for top-class science.





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