Synthetic biology

A.A. 2020/2021
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
BIO/04 BIO/10 BIO/11 BIO/18 BIO/19
Obiettivi formativi
The Synthetic Biology course aims to provide students with an overview of the recently-developed molecular tools that are used for the in vivo monitoring of cellular events and/or perturbation of biological systems. In particular, the course will provide an in-depth overview of the state-of-the-art methodologies and techniques used for the design and fabrication of biological components and systems that do not already exist in the natural world, and the re-design of existing biological systems.
This course focuses on two aspects of synthetic biology: i) engineering of cellular regulation - transcriptional, translational, post-translational and epigenetic (part 1); ii) de novo synthesis and engineering of protein-based tools and their applications (part 2).
Risultati apprendimento attesi
At the end of the course the student will be knowledgeable on the state-of-the-art methodologies/techniques used to generate and/or to engineer biological tools, and will have learned several approaches for their in vivo applications in different cellular model systems. Moreover, the student will have developed the skills to critically evaluate a scientific research article.
Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Primo semestre
Synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary branch of biology, combining biotechnology, molecular biology and biophysics, and is in many ways related to genetic engineering. It can be defined as design and construction of biological devices and biological systems for useful purposes. In particular, the purpose of synthetic biology is the design and fabrication of biological components and systems that do not already exist in the natural world and the re-design and fabrication of existing biological systems.
This course focuses on two aspects of synthetic biology: synthesis and engineering tools and their applications.
Part 1: We will explore how cellular regulation- transcriptional, translational, post-translational and epigenetic- can be used to engineer cells to accomplish well-defined goals.
· Biobricks and IGEM
· The repressilator
· Synthetic bacterial chromosome- Syn3.1
· Synthetic yeast chromosomes for modular metabolic engineering and multicellular phenotypes
· Genomic engineering using transposable elements in vertebrates
· Metabolic prostheses- synthetic biology- inspired treatment strategies for metabolic disorders
· Protein conformational changes in health and disease
Part 2: Protein engineering as an enabling tool in Synthetic Biology:
· Rational design
· Directed evolution
· Expanding the chemistry of life: cell free protein synthesis and nonnatural amino acids
Engineering of membrane proteins that responds to physical stimuli and their applications:
· Light-gated channels and pumps for optogenetics
· Mechanoreceptors for mechanosensing biology
· Temperature- and magnetic field-gated channels for in vivo neurobiology
Introduction to the genetically encoded nanosensors
· Ratiometric and intensimetric nanosensors
· Design and improvement of nanosensor. Rational and empirical design
· In vivo use of nanosensors
Good knowledge of molecular and cellular biology of animals and plants, biochemistry and the principles of biophysics.
Metodi didattici
PowerPoint-assisted lectures. It is strongly recommended that the students attend lectures. Scientific papers will be assigned papers to small student discussion groups. All materials will be made available through the course Ariel website.
Materiale di riferimento
A short-list of Scientific review papers on relevant topics will be made provided throughout the course, on the Ariel web-page.
The referred book is the following: Synthetic Biology — A Primer. | July 2012. Edited By: Paul S Freemont (Imperial College, UK) and Richard I Kitney (Imperial College, UK).
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione
The exam consists of an oral presentation of scientific papers and discussion of the results in the context of the topics addressed in the course. For each part of the two part of the program, students will have to present a scientific paper selected from those provided by the teachers. The presentation will focus on the critical analysis of the paper, with particular attention to the methodologies used. The presentation will be followed by a discussion with the teachers focused on both the paper (80% of finale score) and on the related topics (20% of the final score) presented during the course. The final grade will represent the students' joint evaluation by both teachers.
Lezioni: 48 ore