Left Menu
Development News Edition

'Novel "smart" proteins programmed to turn genes on and off developed'

PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 05-04-2020 11:34 IST | Created: 05-04-2020 11:32 IST
'Novel "smart" proteins programmed to turn genes on and off developed'
File photo Image Credit: ANI

Researchers have created artificial proteins that can control the activity of genes and other molecules in living cells in predetermined ways, an advance that can be used to program the behavior of more complex chemical and biological systems. In the study, published in the journal Science, the scientists showed that the designer proteins can regulate the activity of genes inside the human immune system's T-cells, adding that the development may improve the safety and durability of future cell-based therapies.

The researchers, including those from the University of Washington in the US, explained that the proteins, like their electronic counterparts, logic gates, implement a Boolean function, which is a logical operation performed on one or more binary inputs that produce a single binary output. They explained that these logic gates sense and respond to signals in predetermined ways. Citing an example, the scientists said, the 'AND' gate produces output only when one input AND another are present.

When typing on a keyboard, pressing the Shift key AND the A key produces an uppercase letter A, they explained. The novel protein logic gates, made from biological parts, aim to bring this level of control into bioengineered systems, the researchers added. "Bioengineers have made logic gates out of DNA, RNA and modified natural proteins before, but these are far from ideal. Our logic gates built from de novo designed proteins are more modular and versatile, and can be used in a wide range of biomedical applications" said study senior author David Baker from the University of Washington.

Using proteins like the one currently developed, the scientists said, inputs such as the presence of two different molecules in a living cell can cause it to produce a specific output, such as activating or suppressing a gene. "The whole Apollo 11 Guidance Computer was built from electronic NOR gates," said lead author Zibo Chen, a recent UW graduate student. "We succeeded in making protein-based NOR gates. They are not as complicated as NASA's guidance computers, but nevertheless are a key step toward programming complex biological circuits from scratch," Chen added.

While recruiting a patient's own immune cells in the fight against cancer has worked for certain forms of the disease, targeting solid tumors with genetically engineered T-cells has proven challenging. Based on earlier studies, the researchers believe this could in part be due to T cell exhaustion. Genetically altered T cells can fight for only so long before they stop working, they explained. But with protein logic gates that respond to exhaustion signals, the scientists hope to prolong the activity of genetically modified T cells.

"Longer-lived T cells that are better programmed for each patient would mean more effective personalized medicine," Chen said.



In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...

Dissecting how COVID-19 is catalyzing the trajectory of New World Order

The ensuing pandemic of COVID-19 has hit the globalization in two ways firstly, shrinking the importance of globalization as an economic force by curtailing mobility through worldwide lockdowns, and secondly, rejuvenating the idea of indig...

Domestic seafood trade in focus as COVID-19 changes market dynamics

As predicted earlier in a report titled Seafood industry post-COVID 19 An overhaul to trigger the growth of small fisheries, one of the changes going ahead would be increased focus on domestic seafood trade, driven by falling exports and su...

Migration post-COVID 19: Taking cues from the past to rebuild economies

Migrants are an irreplaceable part of even the essential workforce of developed countries and are on the frontline in the fight against the crisis, making an immeasurable contribution to saving the lives of natives with voting rights....


Latest News

Andhra govt discusses agriculture on Day 2 of 'Mana Palana - Mee Suchana'

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is holding a brainstorming session named Mana Palana - Mee Suchana Our Rule - Your Suggestion on agriculture and allied activities on Tuesday. Todays second session focuses on agriculture a...

Soccer-UEFA gives Romania another week to submit restart plan

European soccers governing body UEFA has given the Romanian football federation FRF until June 1 to submit plans on how it intends to complete the domestic season, the FRF has said. UEFA last month had given European leagues an initial May ...

Hydroxychloroquine given under supervision, side effects can be addressed: Indian-American doc

An eminent Indian-American doctor has said that hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump took to ward off the COVID-19, is given under medical supervision and any side-effect can be addressed, acknowledging that the drug has become ...

'Roma' star Yalitza Aparicio pens article about racial discrimination in Mexico

Mexican actor Yalitza Aparicio has opened up about the racism she experienced post her Oscar nomination for Alfonson Cuarons Roma, saying she never thought that the film would lead to open discussions about such issues. The 26-year-old acto...

Give Feedback