Engineering synthetic organelles using protein phase separation

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The proposed research will investigate several methods for the selective phase separation of engineered proteins in living cells. The primary goal is to develop several new methods that create orthogonal compartments in model unicellular organisms, such as E. coli and S. cerevisiae, for applications in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. Initial efforts will focus on applying recently developed polypeptide tags to control the intracellular phase separation of non-model enzymes. This will involve the genetic engineering of these enzymes, and expression of the engineered enzymes in the model host. The enzymes will then be isolated and their activity in vitro in model phase separated compartments evaluated. In addition to these in vitro tests, the phase separation of the proteins in cells will be tested and the impact of compartment formation on cell growth and enzyme activity will be determined. The student is expected to work initially in a mentored fashion, but then gain independence over the course of the summer research position.

Lab: Obermeyer Research Group

Direct Supervisor: Vivian Yeong

Position dates: 5/26/2020 - 8/14/2020

Hours per Week: 40 

Paid Position: Yes

Credit Available: Yes

Qualifications: Molecular biology, protein expression.

Eligibility: Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Master's; (SEAS only)

 

Allie Obermeyer, aco2134@columbia.edu