NU ChE Graduate Student Publication in Collaboration with Wyss Institute/HMS

A research team led by Dr. George Church at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University recently developed a low-cost and highly efficient cell-free expression system using extracts from the fastest known growing bacterium, Vibrio natriegens. Due to its rapid growth rate and ability to grow in media containing inexpensive nutrients,  Vibrio natriegens has garnered considerable attention as a promising new host for biotechnological research. The first author of the study, Daniel Wiegand, a Research Scientist at the Wyss Institute and current graduate student in the College of Engineering at Northeastern, used super fold GFP as a read-out for tweaking a multitude of parameters in order to retain sustained protein expression in the cell-free reaction over a long period of time. In a head-to-head comparison, it was shown that the optimized system from wild-type Vibrio natriegens performed as well as a highly engineered strain of E. coli – a strain that is commonly used for many current cell-free applications. This new Vibrio natriegens cell-free expression system could be used to facilitate many biotechnological research advances in metabolic engineering, drug discovery, and high-throughput screening of therapeutics. The results of this study are published in ACS Synthetic Biology. Wiegand is currently collaborating with Dr. Edgar Goluch, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern, to express complex biosynthetic pathways in non-model organism cell-free expression systems aiming to produce and improve the capacity to detect and quantify important natural products such as novel classes of antibiotics. Wiegand returned to Northeastern as a Double Husky graduate student after completing his undergraduate studies in Biochemistry in 2013.

Source: Mr. Daniel Wiegand

Photo: Luminescence produced by a luciferase enzyme produced in the Vibrio natriegens cell-free expression system after the addition of a substrate. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University  

Related Faculty: Edgar D. Goluch

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering