Scientists have long been aware of the dangerous abuse of antibiotics and the consequent increase in antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. Overprescribing medicated antibiotics has anxious effects on human health, as does the increased presence of antibiotics in the natural environment. The latter can be due to improper disposal of medicines, but it can also be due to the biotechnology sector, which relies on antibiotics as the device of choice in the lab.
“Biotechnology has long relied on the choice of antibiotics and chemicals to kill cells that we don’t want to grow,” said Michelle O’Mary, a chemical engineer at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “If you have a genetically engineered cell and you want to grow only that cell in a cell population, give it an antibiotic resistance gene. Antibiotic introduction kills all non-GMO cells and I What we want-genetically modified organisms [GMOs] ――To survive. However, many organisms are evolving means of avoiding antibiotics, which are exacerbating problems both in the biotechnology world and in the natural environment. The issue of antibiotic resistance is a major challenge in our time and is only increasing in importance. “
In addition, GMO has a containment issue. “If the GMO came out of the lab and was successfully replicated in the environment, we couldn’t predict what features it would bring to the natural living world,” O’Malley explained. “With the advent of synthetic biology, there is an increasing risk that what we design in our labs will escape and grow into ecosystems to which they do not belong.”
A study currently being conducted in O’Malley’s lab and published in a journal Nature Communications Learn easy ways to deal with both antibiotic abuse and GMO containment. There is a need to replace antibiotics in the laboratory with fluoride.
O’Malley described fluoride as “a very benign chemical that is abundant in the world, including groundwater.” However, she states that it is also toxic to microorganisms that have evolved genes that encode fluoride exporters that protect cells by removing fluoride encountered in the natural environment.
This treatise describes a process developed by Justin Yu, a former graduate researcher in O’Malley’s lab. Using a common technique called homologous recombination, the GMO gene that encodes the fluoride exporter does not function, preventing cells from producing it. These cells also reproduce in laboratories where fluoride-free distilled water is commonly used, but when they escape to the natural environment, they die as soon as they encounter fluoride, preventing their growth.
Prior to this study, Yoo was a project scientist in O’Malley’s lab, co-author of the paper, to characterize fluoride transport proteins identified in anaerobes using yeast. I was working with Susanna Seppala. The first step in this project was for Yoo to remove the natural yeast fluoride transporter.
Immediately after producing the knockout yeast strain, Yoo attended the Synthetic Biology Conference to hear a talk about a new biocontainment mechanism aimed at preventing genetically modified E. coli from escaping the laboratory environment. In that talk, he recalled, “I realized that the knockout yeast strain I produced could serve as an effective biocontainment platform for yeast.”
“In essence, what Justin did was to create a set of DNA commands that could be given to cells that would allow them to survive in the presence of fluoride,” O’Malley said. .. “Usually if you want to select genetically engineered cells in the lab, create a plasmid [a genetic structure in a cell, typically a small circular DNA strand, that can replicate independently of the chromosomes] It had an antibiotic resistance marker, so it will survive even if antibiotics are around. Justin has replaced it with the genes of these fluoride exporters. “
The method, which O’Mary characterized as “hanging fruit-Justin did all these studies in about a month,” also represents a simple economic limitation on antibiotic cell selection at the Institute for Biotechnology. I will deal with it. Apart from facilitating the increase in resistant strains, she continued. “From a biotechnology perspective, the process of making antibiotic-resistant strains is also quite expensive. If you intend to perform 10,000 liters of fermentation, and it may cost thousands of dollars per fermentation to add antibiotics. No, it’s a crazy amount. “Especially when using low concentrations of fluoride, it costs only about 4 cents per liter.
Obviously, Separa uses chemicals that are relatively benign, abundant, inexpensive, and can be used to do the same things that can be achieved with traditional antibiotics, such as fluoride. I want to. “
Yu explained that the role of fluoride transporters was only recently elucidated in 2013, when the project began. A new approach to implementing biocontainment focuses on the use of biological parts that are heterogeneous to the organism of interest, shifting to what Yoo describes as a “brilliant yet complex system.” Perhaps I distracted from this simple approach.