Re-engineering Metabolic Engineering Using Systems and Synthetic Biology
Dr. Stephen S. Fong, Virginia Commonwealth University
Associate Professor, Chemical and Life Science Engineering
Fellow of the Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
Co-Director of Systems Biology for the VCURES Center
Metabolic engineering is an application-driven field that seeks to modify native cellular function by a variety of means. Traditionally, metabolic engineering efforts have been restricted by the availability of knowledge and research tools leading to iterative approaches that are time and labor intensive. Given recent advances in experimental and computational methodologies, the scope and approaches for metabolic engineering have rapidly evolved. In particular, one developing approach is to utilize a combination of systems biology and synthetic biology techniques to predict, implement, and analyze strain designs for metabolic engineering applications. This talk will focus on work within our group for a computational-experimental approach to metabolic engineering that uses metabolic modeling for predicting strain designs, molecular biology and DNA synthesis for implementation, and high-throughput data for analysis. Computational methods will be discussed highlighting approaches that can be utilized for directed strain design. Construction and characterization of genetic control elements (such as promoters or ribosome binding sites) allows for refined implementation of predicted strain designs. Constructed strains can then be systematically characterized and data can be algorithmically analyzed. The development of a rational, streamlined approach to metabolic engineering more closely approximates the design, build, and test paradigm of other engineering disciplines and will expedite bioprocess development.