Biological systems must often be painstakingly tuned before they will efficiently produce drugs or biofuels, degrade chemicals, or perform other useful tasks. Our team implemented broadly applicable methods to optimize biological systems through directed evolution, light-regulated gene expression, and computer aided protein design. We characterized light-inducible protein expression systems for multichromatic tuning of biological pathways. To provide an inexpensive method for tuning gene expression with light, we developed a tablet application that is freely available. We also used computer-aided design to develop proteins that more effectively bind isotypes of the flu protein Hemagglutinin. Finally, we implemented a continuous culture device (turbidostat) in order to apply directed evolution to the metabolism of ethylene glycol in E. coli. We have termed the research conducted this year “Apptogenetics” as all projects utilize purpose-built computational applications for biological research.
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