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Synthetic pigment biosynthesis pathway engineering in Drosophila

Synthetic pigment biosynthesis pathway engineering in Drosophila

By In Aiv Internship On April 16, 2019


Internship title: Synthetic pigment biosynthesis pathway engineering in Drosophila

LABORATORY
Name: Synthetic Fly Lab
Affiliation: CRI Research
Address: 8-10 Rue Charles V
E-mail: radoslaw.ejsmont@cri-paris.org

LAB Director
Name: Ariel Lindner
Phone number: +33188328305
E-mail: ariel.lindner@cri-paris.org

SUPERVISOR
Name: Radoslaw Ejsmont
Phone number: +33614751734
E-mail: radoslaw.ejsmont@cri-paris.org

Subject Keywords: Pigment biosynthesis
Drosophila
Metabolic engineering
Genome engineering
Synthetic biology
Tools and methodologies: Drosophila transgenesis
Gibson assembly
Drosophila genetics
Cell culture

Summary of lab’s interests: Our team will develop a comprehensive set of synthetic biology tools to study and recreate gene regulatory networks in vivo, using Drosophila, a well-established model organism for studying animal development. These tools will enable researchers to bridge the gap between quantitative biology, that provides gene expression data, systems biology that aims to establish accurate models of gene regulatory network and synthetic biology that will be used to test these models. Data from the synthetic gene regulatory networks can also be used as the baseline, a reliable empirical dataset that can improve existing computational methods for network modeling.
Project summary: Eye pigmentation in Drosophila is achieved by synthesis of two pigments: red drosopterin produced from GTP and brown xanthommatin produced from tryptophan. Both GTP and tryptophan are transported into the eye by an ABC transporter encoded by gene white. In this project we aim to replace the drosopterin and xanthommatin biosynthesis by pathways that result if production of carotenoids, melanins and violacein, thus providing a whole gamut of eye pigmentation. Enzymes involved in biosynthetis of these pigments have been previously successfully cloned in E. coli – we aim to bring them to Drosophila. First part of the project will involve cloning the pigment synthesis pathway enzymes under control of a synthetic transcription factor and pathway assays in cell culture. In the second part, we will attempt to direct expression of these enzymes and the required substrate transporters into the compound eye of the fruit fly.
Interdisciplinary aspect of the project: This project aims to introduce novel pigment biosynthesis pathways in Drosophila. The project not only combines Drosophila genetics, transgenics, metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, but also opens a range of possibilities for art and science follow-ups.