Leader: Jean-Loup Faulon
This research team is developing retro-synthesis methods to design and build new metabolic pathways. Retro-synthesis consists of determining a set of exogenous genes, which once inserted into a host organism, produce a target compound. This method is applied to engineer cellular factories for added value chemicals and to develop whole cell biosensors.
Group's website: jfaulon.com
Leader: François Képès
The Modelling & Engineering Genome Architecture (MEGA) team focuses on biochemical networks and their genomic implementation. Approaches range from molecular, systems and synthetic biology, to biophysics, computational evolution and machine learning.
We ask a variety of questions such as:
- Is there a collective transcriptional scheme in the cell?
- May the principles ruling this scheme inspire new control algorithms?
- Do we know enough that we can design from scratch a full synthetic chromosome?
- Can we characterize the dispensable genome and build a minimal genome?
- Why duplication and genome redundancy? Can we rationally engineer novel functions?
- Is there a collective scheme that drives a metabolic control on DNA replication, transcription and genome architecture?
- Can we effectively predict the DNA sites where proteins bind?
Leader: Alfonso Jaramillo
Our lab is developing new technologies (computational and experimental) for the de novo engineering of biomolecules and their interactions (in particular, with the long-term goal of creating synthetic phages as antimicrobials).
De novo engineering of biological circuits through in silico evolution
We developed a new strategy for a novel generation of synthetic regulatory networks relying on RNA instead of proteins as it occurs with conventional gene networks. Synthetic RNA molecules detect a small-molecule and transduce the signal into other RNA molecules that could be cascaded and/or combined through RNA-only pathways to finally control the expression of targeted proteins.
De novo engineering of biomolecules and phage-like particles through programmable evolution
We are programming phage and bacteria to "execute" in living cells combinatorial optimisation algorithms with the aim of creating novel biomolecules and antimicrobials. For this, we have developed a new type of directed evolution, which we call "programmable" because of its similarity with the von Neumann architecture.
We are looking for strongly motivated and talented people willing to contribute developing a disruptive methodology to create new molecules and phages different to anything known ("de novo"). In particular, we aim to create a new generation of personalized antimicrobials based on synthetic phages.
For further details please visit http://synth-bio.org
Leader: Piet Herdewijn
The ultimate aim of the XENOME team is to design and engineer novel cellular components to elaborate safe GMOs (genetically modified organisms) whose in vivo generation and functionality can be strictly controlled, and which therefore allow the development of new and advanced applications in biotechnology.
Director of Research: Philippe Marliere
Imperatively, such components should be completely hazardless for their surrounding by their inability to genetically spread into existing ecosystems. As the natural genetic code for all life on our planet is solely recognized in the form of DNA and RNA polymers, a robust approach is being development of a truly orthogonal nucleic acid which is chemically distinct from DNA and RNA, but which can harbour structural and/or sequence information that is essential for the viability and phenotype of the cell. Obviously, such a “xeno”-nucleic acid (XNA) will be genetically inert, unless it can be accommodated by artificially evolved enzymes and synthesized from its xeno-nucleotide (XN) precursors. The latter, however, are not present in nature and need to be chemically synthesized and explicitly provided to the cell.