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Project Overview
Remember the trojan horse? Employing this trick, Greeks snuck into Troy. Inspired by this story, we engineered Troygenics, molecular trojan horses that enter and transform eukaryotic cells. This approach simplifies difficult and often time consuming protocols commonly used for the transformation of eukaryotic cells.
Our Troygenics are based on the M13 bacteriophage modified in a way that disables it from infecting its natural host E. coli, but enables it to enter target cells specifically, via endocytosis by fusing a target-specific ligand to the major coat protein pVIII. Additionally, we implemented a gene of interest in the Application Plasmid that is packed up into the Troygenics during assembly. For a possible application in fighting eukaryotic pathogens, we developed a Cell Death Inducing System (CeDIS) based on Cas13a that specifically attacks the targeted organism, but is harmless to any other cell nearby.
Synthetic biology is a powerful combination of all natural sciences. But since SynBio is such a young field of research, there are still some challenges to overcome. To improve the difficult and often time consuming transformation protocols for complex eukaryotic cells that might restrict us from their entire potential, we developed Troygenics. Troygenics are easily adaptable to transform a variety of eukaryotic target cells.
To better understand how the idea of our project emerged and out of which diverse parts it is composed, you should read the background site. The natural function of the M13 phage, its proteins pIII and pVIII, endocytosis, and the basic mechanisms of our Cell Death Inducing System (CeDIS) is explained.
Our Troygenics are designed to enter their target cell in a highly specific manner whilst leaving every other organism unaffected. For this purpose, we constructed the Application Plasmid and the Assembly Plasmid. The Assembly Plasmid contains an endocytosis mechanism and the CeDIS or the lab application while the Assembly Plasmid enables E. coli to build a functional Troygenic.