IGEM:UNAM/2008/Brainstorming

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About the Project

Turing Patterns

As far as I have understood the project, we are trying to artificially reproduce Turing patterns; a kind of patterns that could be generated from a homogeneous media, that have been studied extensively, reproduced chemically and that are thought to have an important role in some process of morphogenesis. Apparently some naturally occurring patterns seem to match and resemble Turing patterns, such as those seen in the organization of tricomas in Arabidopsis thaliana’s leafs or the jaguar spots, yet it’s still controversial whether or not they are actually that kind of patterns for the genetic network that underlies its formation is unknown. While we could analyze the variation in naturally occurring patterns and dwell into the genetics of an organism (basically, hammering the organism by knocking out genes), a different approach to the problem; the construction of synthetic networks that produce patterns in organisms that previously didn’t have them, might to be an insightful and refreshing alternative. Our synthetic devise may not resemble the natural one and might pale in comparison, yet its successful construction would allow us to establish whether or not the basic elements necessary for the process are complete and well understood and even reveal what would be needed for cells to generate complex patterns.

Problem #1

Which construction are we going to use? I’ve been unable to design a devise to replicate the widest known Turing pattern, the one that is presented in most papers, it involves a node that is repressed by the action of one diffusible signal and induced by the action of another node and there doesn’t seem to be promoters that behave in such a way, actually that leads me to think that most Turing patterns are not formed in the way that most papers suggest… simply it’s not biologically feasible. Anyway, unless someone else comes with a silver bullet I’ll suggest affronting the problem in a different way: To get theoretical guys [sic] to investigate what is needed for a devise to reproduce Turing patterns. I have designed a lot of devises, yet I only intuitively know that they can generate Turing Patterns. If it can be showed that those devises are able to produce Turing patterns we would have made a big step. I want to remark that, in my opinion we should not be attached to the model that is shown in most papers, after all no one knows the mechanism that underlies the formation of “Turing patterns” in organisms.

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