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The E.ncapsulator: the disease killer


Module M1

Two models are required to explain the functionality of M1:

1) Modelling protein production - Integral part of our design, responsible for manufacturing the drug of interest.

2) Modelling enzyme kinetics - Since the drugs we are manufacturing (cellulase and PAH) are peptide drugs, which undergo a secondary set of enzymatic reactions in the assays, and we aim to relate their activity to the amount of drug produced by our system.

Protein production

M1 consists of the controlled production of a protein of interest. The construct for this module is shown below:

  • In the absence of IPTG, LacI represses the production of the protein of interest (which is our drug, cellulase or PAH)
  • When we add in IPTG, the LacI repressing pathway is “de-repressed”, and some output protein is produced.

Goal of the modelling:

The modelling aims to provide an overview and better understanding of the M1 system’s function by:

  • Characterizing the LacI-IPTG system that is responsible for the production of the drug of interest.
  • Modeling and accounting for several factors that may reduce/hinder the production of our output protein of interest such as:
    • Lac promoter leakiness
    • IPTG toxicity
    • Stability of output protein

The conclusions from the models should help people from the WETLAB to plan their experiments and take into account these considerations as possible limitations/factors to look out for. Note that this module is an integral part of our design, as large-scale commercialization of our product of interest depends on finding the optimal conditions for protein production, and we would preferably like to produce a tuneable output. Hence why we think that our simulations will be useful.

Note that the pros of this type of modeling are that, although it provides us a general understanding of the system, there are several factors that we are still not accounting for. Biological processes are stochastic and there is no limit to how much “realism” we can include in our simulations. These are preliminary models, and the compromise level of detail is sufficient to provide us with the understanding we need, but the conclusion is that there is always room for improvement.

Enzymatic reactions

After IPTG is added, the Lac promoter is induced. Our protein of interest, either PAH or cellulase, is synthesized and builds up within the bacteria. In the small intestines, the capsule will be degraded and the protein of interest will released. The protein of interest will now show enzyme activity and act upon its substrate within the small intestines.

The protein of interest is an enzyme. It will bind to specific substrates and increase the rate of their conversion into products. Therefore, by monitering either the substrate concentration or the product concentration, we can indirectly see the activity of the enzyme. This is quantitated by enzyme activity, which is the rate of substrate utilisation / product formation per unit time.

The raw data to calculate enzyme activity comes from the enzyme assays conducted in the wet lab. To track the quantity of protein of interest being produced, we rely on the Michaelis-Menten plot to relate enzymatic activity to concentration of protein present.

Goal of the modelling

This modelling aims to better understand the enzymatic action of our protein of interest:

  • Characterise the enzymatic activity of our protein of interest
  • Subsequently, model the relationship between the quantity of protein being produced and the enzyme activity using a simple Michaelis-Menten enzyme kinetics model, taking into account factors that could impair enzymatic activity

This model is useful in more accurately predicting the effect of our protein of interest as these are not just simple proteins, but also have enzymatic activity in themselves.

This model will allow an understanding of the activity of the enzymes and allow the WETLAB to have an idea of the magnitude of the activity of the enzymes. More importantly, after the results from enzyme assays are obtained, the model should provide a means of relating the activity output data to the concentration of the enzyme.

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