Seminar Event Detail

Mathematical Biology

Date:  Monday, March 14, 2016
Location:  335 West Hall (12:00 PM to 1:00 PM)

Title:  Engineered Genetic Clocks: From “degrade and fire” to “integrate and fire” dynamics

Abstract:   A defi ning component of Synthetic Biology is the development of theoretical modeling that can serve as the foundation for a new type of cellular engineering. This talk will be anchored by my quest to build genetic oscillators in bacteria, with a particular focus on the utility of theory and computation. I'll start by describing how the coupling of transcriptional activators and repressors was originally modeled as a type of classical "predator-prey" system. Although this system led to the design of a robust intracellular clock (, I'll show how the experiments pointed to a di fferent type of "degrade and fi re" oscillator characterized
by a coupled set of delayed diff erential equations. Interestingly, the biological constraints naturally lead to a system that can be solved approximately.
In terms of engineering, the clock was not of the Swiss variety; the period
and amplitude exhibited large intracellular variability. However, it provided
a benchmark for the development of general synchronization strategies that can
restore determinism. I'll conclude with our e fforts to use cellular communication to couple clocks between cells ( and colonies ( Here, the threshold nature of the communication mechanism leads naturally to oscillators that are highly reminiscent of "integrate and fi re" systems in neuroscience.


Speaker:  Jeff Hasty
Institution:  University of California San Diego

Event Organizer:   Victoria Booth


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