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Metabolic Engineering


The genes for Rhodopsin imbue mitochondria with the ability to  convert Light into a source of Energy

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Metabolic Engineering


The genes for Rhodopsin imbue mitochondria with the ability to  convert Light into a source of Energy

Metabolic Engineering

 

Recent advancements in genetic engineering, such as CRISPR/Cas9, have dramatically enhanced our ability to alter genomes as a means of optimizing (or re-appropriating) an organism's natural processes. And Optogenetics is a recently established facet of this frontier that combines genetic engineering with optical sciences to endow organisms with a diversity of light responsive functions. In particular, BiPlastiq employs several optogenetic enhancements, endowing mitochondria with the ability to metabolize the energy of light. 

 

Rhodopsin

The term Photosystem— has traditionally applied to the photosynthetic complexes within chloroplasts, which give plants their ability to metabolize light. Yet, there is a far simpler variant, called Rhodopsin, which can confer its hosts with the similar abilities. Originally discovered in microbes, Rhodopsins are ion-pumps that are powered exclusively by light. And researchers have quietly spent the better part of two decades engineering these proteins into a variety of organisms from microbes to mammals— endowing each host with the ability to harvesting light as a means of driving cellular metabolism. 

Prior to the emergence of Rhodopsin, the metabolic engineering of microorganisms required the difficult re-regulation bioenergetic reactions. However, several recently published accomplishments have demonstrated Rhodopsin's versatility in enhancing various metabolic processes including the synthesis of ATP resulting in notable increases in energy production,  growth and the scalable synthesis of biomaterials. 

A cosmopolitan protein, Rhodopsin is readily expressively in various organisms across all domains of life. As a result, Rhodopsin holds tremendous promise in its ability to massively disrupt the field of Synthetic Biology. Today, metabolic enhancements once believed to require the difficult re-regulation of complex mitochondrial reactions— can be achieved by merely integrating Rhodopsin into the mitochondrial matrix.

How?

Well, mitochondria are the power plants of (eukaryotic) cells; and the Electron Transport Chain is the central process through which mitochondria produce energy. The Electron Transport Chain performs this task through a series of ion-pistons that convert its fuel into ATP the energy currency for most work performed within the cell. By introducing Rhodopsin into the Electron Transport Chain, BiPlastiq endows mitochondria with ion-pistons capable of converting light into a supplemental source of energy.

 

Biomimicry

And BiPlastiq's advancements do not end there; we are continually optimizing our suite of genetic enhancements to include novel efficiencies, many of which are often represented in nature. A prime example is our use of antennae found in Xantho-Rhodopsin; the antennae dramatically enhance the Rhodopsin's ability to absorb protonic energy.  (The animated example demonstrates how the Xantho-Rhodopsin's Antennae dramatically increases the surface area available to adsorb light, thereby channeling protonic energy to the host's photosystems.) 

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Mitochondria as Processors


As developers increasingly acknowledge the importance of Synthetic Biology, so too are they recognizing that Mitochondrial  “Processors” are driving their Cell-Based Applications.  And by upgrading these processors, BiPlastiq exponentially enhances their applications... 

Mitochondria as Processors


As developers increasingly acknowledge the importance of Synthetic Biology, so too are they recognizing that Mitochondrial  “Processors” are driving their Cell-Based Applications.  And by upgrading these processors, BiPlastiq exponentially enhances their applications... 

 Mitochondrial Processors driving Biological Applications

Mitochondria are the power plants of cells, driving cellular metabolism and ultimately Bio-Fabrication. As such, re-engineering their performance with Rhodopsin is quite analogous to supercharging a PC with a cutting-edge microprocessor. By upgrading the "processor" of each cell, BiPlastiq has effectively enhanced the speed and efficiency of the entire cell-based platform.

Designed to support a broad portfolio of applications, BiPlastiq's mitochondrion-focused strategy seeks to provide a radically different way of enhancing Biological Systems; where the metabolic enhancement of cells might have versatility amongst various applications in Synthetic Biology. And as the ecosystem for Synthetic Biology continues to evolve, BiPlastiq will emerge as a pivotal utility driving platform development across the entire industry. 

Metabolic Engineering introduces the efficiencies of Moore’s Law into Synthetic Biology; with each iteration profoundly advancing the entire ecosystem
— C. Powell Esq. (Director of BiPlastiq)
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Optogenetics


By re-appropriating Cutting-Edge advancements in Optogenetics...BiPlastiq has created a platform that Enhances mitochondrial Metabolism

Optogenetics


By re-appropriating Cutting-Edge advancements in Optogenetics...BiPlastiq has created a platform that Enhances mitochondrial Metabolism

Optogenetics

 

Surprisingly, Rhodopsin's most pronounced contributions have been in the field of neuroscience; where researchers have genetically engineered Rhodopsins into neurons. This addition has provided neuroscientists with the ability to trigger specific brain cells merely by exposing them to light. Using this exciting tool, scientists have developed precise methods for manipulating neural networks with light, and the field now known as Optogenetics has emerged.

Yet, while Optogenetics has been broadly profiled for its accomplishments in neuroscience, researchers have also made steady progress in utilizing Rhodopsin as means of enhancing cellular metabolism. Today, metabolic enhancements once believed to require the difficult re-regulation of complex mitochondrial reactions can now be achieved through merely integrating Rhodopsin into the mitochondrial matrix.  

During this TED presentation, Dr. Boyden a pioneer in the field of Optogenetics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology— explains the discovery of Rhodopsin as well as its potential for the future of Synthetic Biology...