Day 5, part 1: Engineering yeast to make and report valuable compounds

Written by: Karmella Haynes.

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Pamela Peralta-Yahyah presented her work on biosensors to enable engineers to monitor effective bio-production of valuable chemicals. She is a new member of the CSH Synthetic Biology leadership team this year. Her research group is building GPCR’s, proteins that are embedded in the cell  membrane, bind to small molecules outside the cell, and pass the message that the molecule is present on to genes that then become switched on inside the cell. Converting the switched-on gene to a visible signal, like GFP, is easy. Pam is tackling the hard part: making GPCR’s fire only in the presence of compounds we are interested in detecting. Pam’s second project focuses on engineering yeast to produce a an alkaloid compound to treat phenylketonuria; treatment (Kuvan) can cost one person $140k per year.

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At the end of her talk, Julius presented Pam with a gift, and “official” Watson-style hat, to thank her for a fantastic job organizing and mentoring for CSH Synthetic Biology.

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