Even though Team Moscow is new to iGEM competition and still learning, we offered all available specter of the laboratory potential that could be provided to help other teams to reach their goals:
  1. Next-generation sequencing - we have access to the MiSeq machine and will be happy to offer other teams to run their NGS with us. That will help us to achieve the required amount of samples for the run and bring mutual benefit for everyone.
  2. Cell biology approaches - n our laboratories we have all the required facilities for maintaining cell cultures, as well as performing their live imaging and analysis.
  3. Proteomics - since most of our team members have a deep background in structural biology and protein engineering, we are eager to help other teams in protein purification and analysis experiments. Do not hesitate to use our skills for your purposes!
  4. 3D printing - our lab is equipped with several 3D printers and has very talented student members and instructors, that can help you in putting anything you want to physical shape.
Besides, the team participated in as many collaborations as possible which were provided by other teams and also provided easy-to-perform collaborations for the last 1-2 months of the iGEM 2019 before Giant Jamboree, such as:
1. iGEM2019 Spartakiade
The main idea of collaboration is to balance work and an active lifestyle. People get stressed mentally and get tired quickly, especially when deadlines are coming. It is never too late to cheer up and shake tiredness away, spend good times collaborating with team members from different iGEM teams and make new friends. Especially when you do simple exercises, such as sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, etc. Sport aids people in different aspects of their lives. Sport helps to boost productivity, get rid of bad habits, unite people together and triggers the essence of competition, which lies in the deep cores of our brain. In addition, many people would develop positive habits. In other words, Spartakiade is one of the ways to induce a spirit of collaboration and competition which flows in our blood. This kind of collaboration or similar activities must be introduced in iGEM in the future and we look forward to introducing Spartakiade in future iGEM events.
We launched SPartakiade during the first weeks of October. Since the announcement of the collaboration 4 teams joined us and started to work.
Team ULaVerne_Collab iGEM (United States) was very active, positive and enthusiastic. We were laughing so hard when the first video of their team came out and it actually brought joy to our hearts that boys and girls not only exercise but also develop positive habits. Team members continued to do their exercises even outside the Spartakiade which shows us 100% success and accomplishment of one of the main goals of this collaboration.
Teams USP (Brazil), Tartu TUIT (Estonia), NU (Kazakhstan) also did a good job and took part in this collaboration. Considering that everyone is busy and people are almost fully concentrated on last weeks before wiki freeze, we found it to be great tribute and good time spending for everyone! People demonstrated team spirit and full interaction with other team members! Teams were sharing their positive vibes, creating good videos with exercises and uploading those on Instagram with the hashtag #igem2019spartakiade.
Spartakiade united us online on Instagram. Boston would unite us offline on Giant Jamboree, where all participants would receive presents.
We would definitely continue Spartakiade next year.
2. iGEM-2019 Blitz Chess Tournament
It is impossible to work without any break. People need to switch activities. But what can you do during a short pause? Our team has found a great answer: you can play chess! Playing Blitz Chess is a perfect way to diversify your activities, and it is a kind of relaxation which also helps people to develop skills such as tactical thinking. We proposed a Blitz Chess Tournament to other teams. In our opinion, chess is a great hobby, so we would like to spread this idea to other iGEM participants.
During the first weeks of October we conducted a 5 min Blitz Chess Tournament for 6 iGEM teams: Team Moscow (Russia), NU (Kazakhstan), Thessaloniki (Greece), TU-Dresden (Germany), UOttawa (Canada) and ULaVerne_Collab (United States). We had many aims: to diversify our activities, to establish new contacts with other teams not only for chess, but for possible corporations, have a little break and just play for pleasure. Communicating with each other using Instagram chat, we negotiated games schedule and played in our free time.
Tournament was a real success: it was interesting, with a lot of tough games and incredible final! 3 words to describe the tournament: excitement, joy and unity. We played the whole Double Elimination Bracket and we even had a rematch for Moscow against Nur-Sultan.
Finals proceeded to the last decisive game with 3|2 time control. Dresden team lost a lot of times, but at the end they acted really great and succeeded to snatch a victory! Every participant of this tournament was happy to make new friends on the chessboard. Future collaborations, projects and start of great friendship. We look forward to seeing each other in Boston!
This tournament also was some kind of test if the idea works. We decided to make it small and cozy at the end of iGEM season. We verified that Chess tournament is really interesting and it is the perfect opportunity to relax or switch between activities. All participants would receive presents.
We would organize such tournament next year for more teams.
3. Survey about tick-borne diseases
It is essential to gather data from different sources of information. Hence, to gather first-hand information from people living in different parts of the world and understand the problem of Lyme disease in countries, the survey was created. The survey helps us to detect how many people encountered ticks and was bitten by ticks, to improve our system of detection and to find new potential collaborators.
To acquire information first hand from people around the globe we conducted a survey, which helped us to perceive basic understanding on what is going on amongst iGEMmers. The survey is part of the data we have already collected from different sources. We asked teams to help us to fulfill the survey about tick-borne diseases as it is very important for our project.
Teams and number of people from a particular team who fulfilled survey:
  1. US AFRL CarrollHS, Carroll High School, USA
  2. Team ULaVerne Collab, University of La Verne, California, USA
  3. Team TU Dresden from Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
  4. Team Rec-Chennai, India
  5. Team Saint Joseph, Saint-Joseph Private French High School, Istanbul, Turkey
  6. Team UPRM, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus, Mayagüez
  7. Team Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
  8. Team Thessaloniki, Greece
  9. Team VIT Vellore
  10. Team NU Kazakhstan
  11. Team ACIBADEM, Istanbul
  12. Team UFRGS Brazil
  13. Team Chalmers Gothenburg
  14. Team University of Hamburg, Germany
  15. Team IISER Tirupati, India
  16. Team UiOslo Norway
  17. Team Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
Results of the survey:
148 people from 15 countries have answered the questions. 146 people out 148 respondents went to the forest this summer (Fig. 1). Almost half of the people did not go to the forest this summer. 74 people went to the forest 31.5% went to the forest several times, 18,5% went often and one person went once in two weeks.
Figure 1
Figure 1. Pie chart which shows % distribution of people based on 146 responses. Color blue represents % of people who often went to the forest. Color red represents represents % of people who went to the forest several times. Color orange represents % of people who did not go to the forest. Color green represents represents % of people who went to the forest once in two weeks.
40 people were bitten by ticks (Fig 2).
Figure 2
Figure 2. Pie chart representing % of people from 148 responses who choose two options. “Yes” colored in blue and “No” colored in red.
Among those people, 7 were bitten more than 10 times (Fig. 3).
Figure 3
Figure 3. Pie chart which shows % distribution of people based on 40 responses. In blue - from 1 to 5 bites by ticks. Red - from 6 to 10 bites by ticks. Orange - more than 10 bites by ticks
Only 1 person out of 40 went to the laboratory to check the tick. Tick was carrying infections, but infections that were presented are unknown. However, responder described the symptoms of fever and weakness.
97 people out of 148 have pets. Half of the pets were bitten by ticks (Fig. 4).
Figure 4
Figure 4. Pie chart representing % of tick bites amongst pets. Color blue represents few bites. Color red represents several bites. Color orange represents many bites. Color purple represents several bites. Color sky blue represents from 1 to 5 bites. Color green represents zero bites.
8 cases were checked and 1 of them showed signs of infection in the pet, which was not identified.
We also placed questions about diseases that ticks spread in order to see if people are aware about infections or not. 107 people know about Lyme; 76 know about Tick-borne encephalitis; 32 - Relapsing fever; 25 - Rocky Mountain spotted fever; 22 - Anaplasmosis, 15 - Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Tularemia.
In conclusion we state that 63% of surviewed are planning to take ticks to the laboratory for further analysis. 43% of respondents would buy portable device for detection of infections if device would be available on the market.
The survey helped us to understand within iGEM community and representatives from different countries that problem of ticks is presented and there is a risk to catch a parasite from the tick bite. Also, almost half of the responders would like to acquire portable device for express test purposes, which shows interest amongst people. This survey would contribute to our database we collect for further investigations. In addition, we would continue to spread the survey next year as it showed us an effective way to collect information.
Team ULaVerne Collab, University of La Verne, California, USA
In our search for a potential collaborators, we established good and friendly relationships with La Verne’s iGEM Team, who ran a project of making new modified versions of insulin: Proinsulin and Single Chain Long Lasting Insulin for treating type I and II diabetes disease. After a mutual Skype discussion, we found out that our team actually can provide some experimental support for our colleagues from ULV. Since our team was formed by people with a protein engineering background, we offered our assistance in computer modeling and protein purification experiments and ran them side by side with our project.
For modeling, we calculated energies of insulin interactions with the epitope of its receptor using a FoldX open software. Interestingly, the results showed that mutant insulins, proposed by the ULV Team, had lower interaction energies, which makes those molecules more likely to bind their target in the organism.
Figure 3
Figure 1. Results of interaction energy calculations for Native insulin (left), Proinsulin (AsnA21Ala) (central) and Single Chain Long Lasting Insulin (ProB28Lys and LysB28Pro) (right)
As the next step, our Team conducted molecular dynamics. We used the OPLS AA force field to calculate the Radius of gyration ad RMSD (Fig.2). The Radius of gyration of a protein is a measure of its compactness, while RMSD proves the stability of protein structure - both parameters should remain relatively steady through molecular dynamics if the protein is folded correctly. It is observed from the graph that Proinsulin is the most fluctuating system, which means that the Asn21Ala mutation distorts the system. Another mutation (Long-Lasting Insulin) is as stable as a native one. Gyration radius measurements confirm that idea.
Figure 2
Figure 2. The change of the Radius of gyration (left) and RMSD value (right) through the time of molecular dynamics for Native insulin, Proinsulin (AsnA21Ala) and Single Chain Long Lasting Insulin (ProB28Lys and LysB28Pro)
Figure 3. The dynamical behavior of Native insulin (left), Proinsulin (AsnA21Ala) (central) and Single Chain Long Lasting Insulin (ProB28Lys and LysB28Pro) (right)
In terms of wet lab, we used our facilities for validating Team ULV’s experimental design. Our team received constructs of both insulins and transformed them into E.coli BL21(DE3) strain for overexpression. After induction with IPTG, we analyzed protein synthesis from the constructs by SDS-PAGE, following the protocol described in Nallamsetty & Waugh (2007) Nat. Protoc. (Fig. 4). However, the results showed no significant differences between strain before and after induction, which most probably points to a lack of expression from all constructs.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Overexpression of Proinsulin constructs (AsnA21Ala) (left) and Single Chain Long Lasting Insulin construct n BL21(DE3) strain
Team Bilkent UNAMBG, Turkey
Team Bilkent was working on a storybook about synthetic biology written in different languages for children across the globe. They asked for help. We translated the text from English to Russian and sent it by email. We thought that more children must learn what Team Bilkent is doing and maybe more people would join the science world.
Team Virginia, University of Virginia, United States
The team proposed “Social Media Hub” to store information about social media of all teams that are presented in the iGEM. We thought that it is a great idea to participate in this collaboration because it would make communication and collaboration both easy.
Team Saint Joseph, Saint-Joseph Private French High School, Istanbul, Turkey
Team Saint Joseph proposed a meme challenge. We participated because competition should also have funny jokes. Also, a good meme is perfect for social media and public relations.
Teams from Costa Rica, Tuebingen, and TAS Taipei; Costa Rica, Germany, and Taiwan
Conservation natural biotic systems are one of the priorities in today's world and the backbone of iGEM competition, as teams are working hard to make life better and conserve nature. It is a minor collaboration, but the old phrase states “Remind! As the reminder brings benefits!” We decided that it would be good to participate in the challenge and remind ourselves and others about the importance of saving our planet.
Team Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
Team Strasbourg is developing a test for food allergens and launched a survey on the impact and incidence of allergies in different countries where there are iGEM teams. Both of our teams saw a great chance to help each other by filling in surveys that both teams developed.
Team TU-Dresden, Dresden, Germany - 3D model requirement
We 3D printed by FDM technology a specific spin column which was designed by Team Tu-Dresden in AutoCAD. This extra environmentally-friendly column does not require space, it is utilized purely by hands and can be used independently at any time, while other big columns are occupied. It is perfect for their project. Colleagues want to understand how would DNA bind to cellulose paper in comparison with dipping paper strip into DNA-solution. The column can hold paper and suit tubes.
Team Technion-Israel, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Israel - 1 minute video challenge
Great collaboration proposed by the team caught our eyes. 1-minute video challenge, where every participating team explains the project on which it works would save the time of every iGEMmer, train soft-skills and explain important parts of the project using simple language. We took part in it, uploaded a video on Instagram and invited 5 teams to continue this challenge, as the requirements suggested.
Team iGEM Dusseldorf - postcard challenge
One of the main ideas of the iGEM competition is sharing knowledge and creating interdisciplinary connections with young scientists all over the world! Team Dusseldorf came up with an idea to remember the past and use postcards to create those connections. Our team decided to participate because it is very important to become a part of the international community of researchers!
Team KCL_UK, King's College London - biosecurity survey
Our team has taken part and answered questions in a survey about biosecurity standards. We think that the rules of laboratory security are one of the most important things when experiments are conducted. This survey will help scientific society to improve these standards and, consequently, the quality of the work.
Team Nanjing-China - help with collecting information about phosphorus
Our team supports environmentally-friendly projects. We have helped Team Nanjing with a collection of information about phosphorus content in domestic sewage in Russia. We have also found many different methods of detecting and cleaning, which are usually used in Russia. We hope it will help Team Nanjing-China with solving a worldwide problem!

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