Cellular mimics that chemically communicate with natural cells
Bio: Sheref Mansy received his BS in Microbiology from Ohio State University in 1997, and then received his PhD in Biochemistry, also from Ohio State, in 2003. After beginning his teaching career at the University of Denver, he now works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Trento, Italy. His research interests are searching the chemical origins of life by exploring the potential impact of short, prebiotically plausible iron-sulfur peptides on the emergence of extant metabolism. His group constructs cellular mimics (i.e. artificial cells) that can chemically communicate with and influence the behavior of natural, living cells. He has been awarded with the Armenise-Harvard Career Development Award in 2009, was a TED fellow in 2012 and a Simons Investigator in 2013.
Abstract: One difficulty in attempting to construct artificial cells is an inability to quantify how close the assembled artificial cells are to natural cellular life. To circumvent this problem, we constructed artificial cells that can chemically communicate with natural bacteria, including V. fischeri, V. harveyi, E. coli, and P. aeruginosa. Although sending chemical messages to each of these bacteria was possible, only the sensing mechanism for V. fischeri was functional in vitro. The response of V. fischeri to two-way chemical communication with artificial cells was then compared to communication with natural V. fischeri in order to determine how life-like the artificial cells were. Artificial cells were also built to either mediate communication between organisms that do not normally communicate with each other or interfere in normal communication paths. Such artificial cells could, in the future, be harnessed to control complex mixtures of bacterial populations.
Molecular Engineering and Sciences Seminar Series
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