Welcome to the CU-iGEM 2012 wiki! This is the first time the University of Colorado has competed in the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition, and we are excited to show you the science coming out of Boulder, Colorado! We are a team of five undergraduates advised by our two graduate mentors, and a smattering of post-docs. This year is also the grand opening of the brand new Biofrontiers building for bioscience, and biotechnology research. We have been fortunate enough to have lab space in the new building.
Quorum sensing is a system of bacterial communication that coordinates gene expression based on population density. Quorum sensing dictates many functions within bacteria such as when pathogenic gene products are released, biofilm formation, and food rot. Inhibiting quorum sensing became the goal of CU-Boulder’s 2012 iGEM team. This led us to find or create many interesting BioBrick parts such as Aiia, a protein that degrades specific quorums, Sdia, a transcription factor that is more sensitive to AHLs than the standard LuxR, and NucB, a nuclease that degrades preexisting biofilm.
Instead of using a pathogenic bacteria, our team utilized the Lux gene brick from Vibrio fischeri. This gram-negative bacteria uses quorum sensing to produce bioluminescence, while living in the gut of bobtail squid (shown above). By using V. fischeri, our team eliminated the risk of working with pathogenic bacteria and bioluminescence proved to be easily quantifiable using plate reader experiments. As none of the presubmitted Lux bricks worked for our team, we isolated each of the 5 essential genes (LuxA,B,C,D,and E) and well an extremely important bioluminescent gene, LuxG, from a V. fischeri strain to create our model system. For more detailed information on our project visit our Project page.
The video below is an animated overview of quorum sensing.