“Manipulating Cellular Function with Synthetic RNAs”

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018 | 12:30 - 1:30 PM Add to Calendar

The Center for Theoretical Biological Physics presents:
“Manipulating Cellular Function with Synthetic RNAs”

James Chappell
Assistant Professor
Department of Bioengineering
BioSciences at Rice
Rice University

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
12:30 – 1:30 PM
BRC, 10th Floor,
Room 1060 A/B

Abstract: Synthetic biology seeks to expand and enhance the amazing ability of cells to sense, process and respond to their environment. Underpinning these natural cellular capabilities are genetic programs that control how cells convert their genetic information into temporal patterns of RNA and proteins that determine cellular function. As such, critical to our ability to engineer and manipulate cellular function, is our ability to precisely control gene expression.

Here I will present our work on harnessing RNA for the creation of synthetic regulatory tools for controlling gene expression, and ultimately cellular functions. I will begin by discussing the versatile nature of RNA regulation, highlighting how synthetic RNAs can be engineered to control almost every aspect of gene expression. I will then discuss how the designable nature of this molecule—being underpinned by predictable RNA structures—is now allowing for the computational design of RNA regulatory libraries de novo, delivering some of the best-performing bacterial regulators to date. Finally, I will present our work on harnessing these synthetic RNAs for construction of RNA-only genetic programs that allow cells to integrate, cascade and fan-out cellular information, and even transform static signals into dynamic pulses.

Bio: James Chappell performed his graduate research at Imperial College London, focusing on creation of foundational tools for synthetic biology. As a postdoctoral researcher, he moved to Cornell University and switched to a biomolecular engineering focus, investigating how RNAs can be engineered to create programmable regulators of gene expression for predictably engineering biological systems. He is now an assistant professor in the Biosciences Department at Rice University, where he continues his work on RNA engineering and its application for synthetic biology.


BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC), 10th Floor, Room 1060 A/B

6500 Main St, Houston, TX 77030


Lisa Bennett