Thursday, February 7, 2013
106 Spalding Lab, Hartley Memorial Seminar Room
Chemical Engineering Seminar
Directed evolution strategies for cellular and metabolic engineering
Hal Alper, Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin
The field of metabolic engineering has recently undergone a transformation that has led to a rapid expansion of the chemical palate of cells. Now, it is conceivable to produce nearly any organic molecule of interest using a cellular host -- from biofuels to biopolymers to pharmaceuticals. However, these feats require the ability to 'hijack' native cellular machinery and metabolism and navigate the complexity inherent in cellular regulation. One of the biggest challenges in the field is that cellular metabolism is quite complex. Specifically, cellular metabolism and complex global phenotypes are the result of coordinated, interwoven networks of metabolites, enzymes, and regulatory factors. A particularly useful and broadly applicable approach for reconfiguring and modulating these components is protein directed evolution. This talk will focus on illustrating the power of merging metabolic engineering approaches with protein engineering principles for common metabolic engineering targets such as pathway enzymes, genetic control elements, transporter proteins, and both regulatory and epigenetic elements. Several case studies will be used to demonstrate these concepts and highlight successes in each of these categories. Ultimately, these efforts can be combined to enable a multi-level phenotype optimization which forms the basis for an integrative metabolic and cellular engineering approach. Finally, this talk will concude with prospects for the future of cellular engineering.