Wednesday, March 25, 2015
We spent this week learning how to use TinkerCell and creating a model for our project on the application. We were able to simulate production of violacein; however, we were unable to insert a sensitivity tuner that causes violacein output to increase or to link varying nitrate input levels to varying output levels. The nitrate enters the cell, stimulating the nitrate-sensitive promoter and thus enabling the production of enzyme pathways VioA-E to convert L-tryptophan to violacein.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
The first week of our project was spent deciding on a problem and brainstorming a solution of interest and on familiarizing ourselves with past projects and current concerns. We entertained several project ideas inspired by our interest in the risks caused by foreign or potentially harmful substances in the body but repeatedly returned and eventually settled on nitrates and nitrites because of our sympathy for the blue baby syndrome resulting from methemoglobinemia. Our focus lay in solidifying a general framework for project design and scope, which we defined as the detection of an excess of nitrates and nitrites in the body through synthesized pigment production.
Our group is now in the process of researching various parts for our device and methods of implementation. We have found a nitrate and nitrite sensitive promoter as well as a purple pigment production open reading frame called violacein. Our inspiration for the pigment production as means of detection came from the existing Cambridge 2009 E.Chromi iGEM project raised in discussion with our teacher. Upcoming goals include determining more of the parts we will use and conducting further research of past projects and the workings of their devices and parts.