Mini-bootcamp 2011

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This page contains a description of the mini-bootcamp run in Feb 2011.


  • Jorge Goncalves
  • Jun Liu
  • Yuan Ye
  • Enoch Yeung
Part-time students
  • Elisa Franco
  • Richard Murray
  • Emzo de los Santos
  • Joe Meyerowitz
  • Ophelia Venturelli
  • Vanessa Jonsson
Project advisor
  • Richard Murray

Project description

The goal of this project is to measure variability in gene expression that is relevant for synthetically designed circuits. The issue that we are trying to understand is now much variability arises for the expression of a given circuit under degrees of freedom that are typically not controlled in synthetic designs:

  • Location and orientation of circuit elements in the plasmid
  • Vectors used for expressing the circuit, including copy number and antibiotic resistance
  • Growth conditions (temperature, oxygen, media, growth phase)

To understand how these (and other) factors will affect circuit operation, a simple genetic circuit consisting of 2 reporters will be built and implemented in a variety of conditions. The dynamic response of the circuit will be measured, including cell-to-cell variability (via flow cytometry and microscopy).

Project objectives:

  • Construct a simple genetic circuit that tests the effects of putting different reporters in different configurations in a plasmid.
  • Characterize the differences (if any) in mean expression level of the circuits, possibly in multiple growth conditions, using a plate reader
  • Characterize differences in expression distributions using flow cytometry (FACS Calibur) and fluorescent microscopy
  • Perform in vitro testing of the constructs using the PURExpress kit and spectrofluorometer to check for differences in mean expression level

Lambda switch.png

  • Circuit layout: directions, ordering

Biobrick plasmid.png

  • (Cell strain)
  • Growth media: LB, M9/glycerol, M9/glucose
  • Induction level
  • Temperature


Session 0: project discussion and lab tour

Session 1: lab techniques

This lab session will teach some of the basic techniques that will be used throughout the bootcamp. We assume no background in molecular biology laboratory techniques. By the end of this session, students will be able to transform a plasmid into cells, pick colonies containing the plasmid, grow the cells up to a given optical density, extract the plasmids, and quantify them.

Session goals:
  • Lab safety
  • Laboratory techniques: gloves, pipetting, disposal
  • Transforming plasmids into cells, growing, extracting
  • Clean up: benches, glassware
  • TBD
  • TBD
Techniques and equipment:
  • Pipetting
  • Transformation, selection, growth
  • Optical density (OD) measurements (nanodrop?)
  • Mini-preps
  • Quantification (nanodrop)
  • Autoclave

Session 2: cloning

Session goals:
  • TBD
  • TBD
Techniques and equipment:
  • PCR
  • Restriction digests
  • Gels
  • Gibson assembly

Session 3: plate reader

Session goals:
  • TBD
  • TBD
Techniques and equipment:

Session 4: microscope

Session 5: spectrofluorometer

Session 6: flow cytometer