University of Minnesota Duluth
University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
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Friday, November 20, 2015; 3:00 p.m.; LSci 175


Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Welcomes:

Dr. Vincent Noireaux

Associate Professor, School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Minnesota Twin Cities


“Cell-Free Transcription-Translation: from Gene Circuits to Self-Assembly in a Test Tube”


Cell-free transcription-translation (TX-TL) systems are becoming powerful platforms to construct biochemical systems in vitro through the expression of synthetic gene circuits. In the past decade, considerable efforts have been made to expand the capabilities of those systems. My lab has worked on expanding the transcription repertoire of cell-free expression systems, traditionally based on the T7 RNA polymerase and promoter, to go beyond just in vitro protein production. We developed an all E. coli platform so as to use 10s or 100s of regulatory parts for the construction, execution and characterization of gene circuits outside living cells in either test tube reactions, microfluidics or liposomes. New metabolisms energize gene expression for 8-10 hours to reconstruct complex active biological systems. For example, the phages T7 and phix174 are synthesized in cell-free TX-TL reactions from their genomes. Both phages serve as model systems to study the relationship information to self-assembly. Encapsulated inside cell-sized phospholipid liposomes, the cell-free TX-TL system is used to construct a minimal cell using a bottom-up approach. I will present this cell-free synthetic biology platform and our last experiments.

Example of experiments using the cell-free TX-TL platform developed in Noireaux’s lab at the University of Minnesota. Left: cell-free synthesis of the phage T7 (60 nm diameter, TEM). Right: expression of the MreB cytoskeleton inside synthetic liposomes (diameter ≈ 10 µm, fluorescence microscopy).