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Proteins can be altered by removing part of a protein from one cell and replacing it with a similar part from another protein. However, the joined protein modules are not always compatible and must be engineered through trial and error to produce a successful new protein that can alter the function of a cell. This process is time consuming, and researchers are limited by the availability of compatible biological components.
University of Texas at Dallas Professor Faruck Morcos has been leading a team in creating a project aimed at getting people excited about exploring the molecular world. “We decided to start a project to disseminate science to general audiences and interact with high school students,” Morcos said. So, they created a game app: MoleculeGo.In the game, each player is a scientist who goes out into the real world to discover molecules to take back to the app’s laboratory.
According to new research, the key to a successful, long-term relationship is for each partner to adapt to the other’s changes over time.
At least, that’s what appears to be true for pairs of proteins in bacteria.
A University of Texas at Dallas scientist and his colleagues are developing computer models to predict how mutations — or tiny physical changes — affect the biological performance of pairs of proteins that have co-evolved to work together.
Virtually all functions in our bodies require precise interactions between radically different types of molecules. The vast majority of the time, these encounters yield nothing, but a special few sustain life as we know it. Drs. Faruck Morcos and Zachary Campbell at The University of Texas at Dallas are pursuing what differentiates a fruitful encounter from a dud — a mystery with long odds similar to finding a soul mate among the metaphorical millions of fish in the sea. Their ultimate goal is to prevent the relationships that become toxic and result in disease.
Researchers from two University of Texas System institutions have engineered biological components that can rewire genetic response pathways, creating a template for designing new cellular behaviors with wide-ranging potential applications.
Dr. Faruck Morcos of The University of Texas at Dallas and Dr. Clement Chan of UT Tyler have collaborated on modular versions of repressors — the proteins that block genetic instructions.
In a paper recently published in Nucleic Acids Research, they proposed a new strategy to create living cells that can sense multiple signals via reporter proteins. Their work, which has potential applications in medical diagnostics, originates from an interdisciplinary field called synthetic biology.