Engineering magnetic bacteria for spatial control and therapeutic applications
Internship title: Engineering magnetic bacteria for spatial control and therapeutic applications
Name: Department of Chemistry – ENS
Affiliation: UMR8640 – Department of Chemistry – Ecole Normale Supérieure
Address: 24 Rue Lhomond
Name: Zoher GUEROUI
Phone number: 0144322409
Name: Zoher GUEROUI/ Mary AUBRY
Phone number: 0144322409
Subject Keywords: Synthetic Biology, Biophysics, Bacteria, Biomineralization, Biosensor
Tools and methodologies: Bacteria manipulation, Biomineralization, Fluorescence Microscopy, Magnetic Manipulation, Biophysics
Summary of lab\’s interests: We use interdisciplinary and quantitative approaches to study some aspects of biological systems
Current research projects include:
1. Self-organization of biological systems (Intracellular Phase Transitions, Reaction Diffusion processes, …)
2. The engineering of microorganisms as programmable factories to implement genetically-encoded functions, or to produce nanomaterials.
These projects benefit from several key collaborators based in France (Biologists at IBENS / SU / Collège de France) and in Japan (CiRA, Kyoto University). The Laboratory is developing interdisciplinary research between Biophysics, Biology, and Synthetic Biology. The Master student will benefit from strong preliminary experiments.
Project summary: Recent progresses in biotechnology showed how reprogrammed microbes could serve as in vivo whole-cell biosensors, or as programmable delivery vehicles for therapeutic or diagnostic agents that could in the future be designed to address basic researches and biomedical issues (cancer, infections, microbiome engineering). However, several issues limit the use of microbes to solve technological problems including the spatial dissemination of the bacteria that drive to ineffective action, the lack of spatial controls, or to biosafety issues. In the laboratory, inspired by magnetotactic bacteria, we are developing a process combining chemical and genetic approaches to transform E. Coli and confer them magnetic properties. To do so, we have devised a strategy allowing the controlled biomineralization of iron oxide nanoparticles into protein nanocages expressed in bacteria. We recently demonstrated that our magnetic bacteria can be spatially controlled and fully conserve their genetic properties. We also developed proof-of-concept experiments that showed that magnetic bacteria can be programmed to perform specific tasks as biosensing. One goal of this objective of the Master to use our bacteria programmed as whole-cell biosensors bacteria to report on environmental changes, detect specific molecules, or target cells (pathogenic bacteria for instance).
Interdisciplinary aspect of the project: Tools and concepts from Synthetic Biology, Biophysics, Biotechnology