microfluidics, fluorescent reporters and synthethic/system biology for dummies


Getting the first name on Nature it isn't so frequent, but getting it two times in a year (2008) by using a nobelized reporter gene is very impressive, and Matthew Bennet got it. In the group of Jeff Hasty at the University of California, those guys used a microfluidics platform in combination with fluorescence microscopy to look at:

  1. the loops of a synthethic dual-feedback circuit forming positive and negative tunable feedback loops on yemGFP expression in E. coli;
  2. the response of the galactose-utilization network in the yeast to sinusoidal changes in glucose concentration over a steady galactose background.

It comes to mind Jacobs and Monod with their petri dishes, but time changes. According to Jeff:

increasingly, there are microfluidics people in every department.

In my department, there are people who are still scared about multichannel pipettors and 96well plates. Neanderthal biologists!

Matthew R. Bennett, Wyming Lee Pang, Natalie A. Ostroff, Bridget L. Baumgartner, Sujata Nayak, Lev S. Tsimring, Jeff Hasty (2008). Metabolic gene regulation in a dynamically changing environment Nature, 454 (7208), 1119-1122 DOI: 10.1038/nature07211

Jesse Stricker, Scott Cookson, Matthew R. Bennett, William H. Mather, Lev S. Tsimring, Jeff Hasty (2008). A fast, robust and tunable synthetic gene oscillator Nature, 456 (7221), 516-519 DOI: 10.1038/nature07389