Biological and Molecular Components for Genetically Engineering Biosensors in Plants

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Journal profile

The open access journal BioDesign Research, published in association with NAU, publishes novel research in the interdisciplinary field of biosystems design.

Editorial board

The editorial board, led by Xiaohan Yang (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and Alfonso Jaramillo (University of Warwick), is comprised of experts who have made significant and well recognized contributions to the field of biodesign research.

Special issues

The Submission deadline is December 31st for the following special issues:

• Designing Proteins With New Folds and Function

• Engineering Microbiomes for Biodesign Applications

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Cone snail venoms have been considered a valuable treasure for international scientists and businessmen, mainly due to their pharmacological applications in development of marine drugs for treatment of various human diseases. To date, around 800 Conus species are recorded, and each of them produces over 1,000 venom peptides (termed as conopeptides or conotoxins). This reflects the high diversity and complexity of cone snails, although most of their venoms are still uncharacterized. Advanced multiomics (such as genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) approaches have been recently developed to mine diverse Conus venom samples, with the main aim to predict and identify potentially interesting conopeptides in an efficient way. Some bioinformatics techniques have been applied to predict and design novel conopeptide sequences, related targets, and their binding modes. This review provides an overview of current knowledge on the high diversity of conopeptides and multiomics advances in high-throughput prediction of novel conopeptide sequences, as well as molecular modeling and design of potential drugs based on the predicted or validated interactions between these toxins and their molecular targets.

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Revealing CO2-Fixing SAR11 Bacteria in the Ocean by Raman-Based Single-Cell Metabolic Profiling and Genomics

The majority of marine microbes remain uncultured, which hinders the identification and mining of CO2-fixing genes, pathways, and chassis from the oceans. Here, we investigated CO2-fixing microbes in seawater from the euphotic zone of the Yellow Sea of China by detecting and tracking their 13C-bicarbonate (13C-HCO3-) intake via single-cell Raman spectra (SCRS) analysis. The target cells were then isolated by Raman-activated Gravity-driven Encapsulation (RAGE), and their genomes were amplified and sequenced at one-cell resolution. The single-cell metabolism, phenotype and genome are consistent. We identified a not-yet-cultured Pelagibacter spp., which actively assimilates 13C-HCO3-, and also possesses most of the genes encoding enzymes of the Calvin-Benson cycle for CO2 fixation, a complete gene set for a rhodopsin-based light-harvesting system, and the full genes necessary for carotenoid synthesis. The four proteorhodopsin (PR) genes identified in the Pelagibacter spp. were confirmed by heterologous expression in E. coli. These results suggest that hitherto uncultured Pelagibacter spp. uses light-powered metabolism to contribute to global carbon cycling.

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The ability to finely control the structure of protein folds is an important prerequisite to functional protein design. The TIM barrel fold is an important target for these efforts as it is highly enriched for diverse functions in nature. Although a TIM barrel protein has been designed de novo, the ability to finely alter the curvature of the central beta barrel and the overall architecture of the fold remains elusive, limiting its utility for functional design. Here, we report the de novo design of a TIM barrel with ovoid (twofold) symmetry, drawing inspiration from natural beta and TIM barrels with ovoid curvature. We use an autoregressive backbone sampling strategy to implement our hypothesis for elongated barrel curvature, followed by an iterative enrichment sequence design protocol to obtain sequences which yield a high proportion of successfully folding designs. Designed sequences are highly stable and fold to the designed barrel curvature as determined by a 2.1 Å resolution crystal structure. The designs show robustness to drastic mutations, retaining high melting temperatures even when multiple charged residues are buried in the hydrophobic core or when the hydrophobic core is ablated to alanine. As a scaffold with a greater capacity for hosting diverse hydrogen bonding networks and installation of binding pockets or active sites, the ovoid TIM barrel represents a major step towards the de novo design of functional TIM barrels.

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