News and Events in brief

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New Publications:

Full list and more detail can be found here:

SYNBIOCHEM Synthetic Biology Research Centre, Manchester – A UK foundry for fine and speciality chemicals production. Le Feuvre RA, Carbonell P, Currin A, Dunstan M, Fellows D, Jervis AJ, Rattray NJW, Robinson CJ, Swainston N, Vinaixa M, Williams A, Yan C, Barran P, Breitling R, Chen GG, Faulon JL, Goble C, Goodacre R, Kell DB, Micklefield J, Scrutton NS, Shapira P, Takano E, Turner NJ. (2016). Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology, 1: 271-5.

An oxidative N-demethylase reveals PAS transition from ubiquitous sensor to enzyme. Ortmayer M, Lafite P, Menon BR, Tralau T, Fisher K, Denkhaus L, Scrutton NS, Rgby SE, Munro AW, Hay S & Leys D. (2016). Nature, 539: 593-7. Web link

SpeedyGenes:  Exploiting an Improved Gene Synthesis Method for the Efficient Production of Synthetic Protein Libraries for Directed Evolution. Currin A, Swainston N, Day PJ, & Kell. (2017) Methods Mol. Biol. 1472: 63-78. Web link

Mapping the patent landscape of synthetic biology for fine chemical production pathways. Carbonell, P., A. Gok, et al. (2016). Microb Biotechnol. 9, 687-95. Web link

Natural Product Biosynthesis in Escherichia coli: Mentha Monoterpenoids. Toogood, H. S., S. Tait, et al. (2016). Methods Enzymol 575: 247-270. Web link

An Enzyme Cascade for Selective Modification of Tyrosine Residues in Structurally Diverse Peptides and Proteins Struck A-W, Bennet MR, Shepherd SA, Law BJC, Zhuo Y, Wong LS & Micklefield J. (2016) Am. Chem Soc.,  138 (9), pp 3038–3045

Multiple active site residues are important for photochemical efficiency in the light-activated enzyme protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (POR) Menon, B. R., Hardman, S. J., Scrutton, N. S. & Heyes, D. J.. Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology 161, 236-243, (2016).

Biocatalytic retrosynthesis: Redesigning synthetic routes to high-value chemicals. Green, A.P., Turner, N.J. (2016), Perspectives in Science

New funded collaborations

Using Synthetic Biology, Metagenomics, and Bioprocessing to provide alternative routes to high value chemicals a UK / Brazil collaboration. Lignin valorization in cellulosic ethanol plants: biocatalytic conversion via ferulic acid to high value chemicals. Summary: Lignin can be obtained as a by-product of cellulosic ethanol production, and is a potential source of renewable chemicals. Efficient valorisation of lignin is a major unsolved problem in the development of sustainable biorefineries. This 5 year project builds upon an existing BBSRC/FAPESP FAPPA partnership award, and brings together expertise in cellulosic ethanol production and in biocatalyst discovery (CTBE) with expertise in biocatalytic lignin valorisation (Warwick) and biocatalysis for high value chemicals production (Manchester,UCL).

Synthetic biology for high performance materials: In partnership with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), University of Manchester (UoM) and the Synthetic Biology (SynBio) Research Centre SYNBIOCHEM, have launched a series of SynBio initiatives around the development of high performance materials with potential civilian and military applications. The research unites expertise in SynBio, additive manufacture, polymer science and allied disciplines and is focused on aramid fibres, multi-functional nanofibres, bioprocessing of agricultural waste and enzyme engineering for new materials. This work is complemented by additional projects funded through EPSRC/Innovate UK.

Development of thoroughly optimised production chassis for advanced pharmaceutical ingredients: A new H2020 funded project TOPCAPI, involving 8 academic and industry partners from 4 different countries (led by Prof. Takano) will exploit the natural fabrication power of actinomycetes as microbial cell factories to produce high-value pharmaceutical ingredients.

RoadMAPS to societal mobilisation for the advancement of responsible industrial technologies: Is a new EU programme that aims to connect industrial players with actors from research and civil society organisations to discuss and implement roadmaps for the responsible development of technologies in 3 key fields including SynBio (Led by Randles).

iGEM Team 2016:

Congratulations to our iGEM team: After a year of hard work and a summer of intense labs, human practices and pioneering ensemble-modeming, the iGEM team were awarded a Gold medal at the Boston Jamboree, they also won the Best Model Prize and were nominated for the Education and Public Engagement Prize – A superb year! The interdisciplinary team comprised of biologists, physicists and social scientists from the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, who  undertook a project aimed to help address problems associated with binge drinking and alcoholism, through the creation of a biological ethanol sensor. Read more



1st European Congress on Cell-Free Synthetic Biology Mar 26 – 30th 2017: (ECCSB)

SynBioBeta London April 4-7th  2017 (link)

7th International meeting on Synthetic Biology 13-16th June 2017, National University of Singapore (link)

3rd UK SynBio meeting – 27-28th November 2017 Manchester