Synthetic biology: achieving high efficiency genome editing in a multicellular organism

Synthetic biology: achieving high efficiency genome editing in a multicellular organism

Internship Description

We are interested in understanding the general design principles of how gene expression is regulated at the genomic level in multicellular organisms. This includes understanding how large-scale DNA characteristics such as patterns in non-coding sequence, gene structure, and large-scale chromosome organization influence gene expression. To understand the grammar of how primary DNA sequence regulates gene expression, we use classical genetics, bioinformatics, and biological engineering in the nematode C. elegans with strong inspiration from the nascent field of synthetic biology. We believe that quantitative, high-throughput approaches will result in fundamental biological insights.

Quantifying functionality, as well as redundancy, of parts of the genome requires efficient genome editing. For example, what constitutes a minimal genome and number of genes that allows viability and normal development? Can we identify a set of enhancers and regulatory regions that allow expression in each individual cell at every developmental stage? Using transposons and Cas9/CRISPR, we will continue development of genome editing tools with the goal of enabling genome-scale manipulation for arbitrarily complex reorganization and re-coding of the C. elegans genome to answer questions about genome structure and function.

Deliverables/Expectations

The projects will be individually adjusted to the intern’s interests and scientific background. The student will benefit from being in a small, recently established laboratory. The project is suitable for students with a background in life sciences - or students from quantitative sciences such as engineering with an interest in biological systems. If possible, the project can form an excellent basis for a bachelor’s or master’s projekt. We expect the intern to “work hard and play hard”:  someone who is engaged, enthusiastic and willing to work hard in the lab. And someone who will also be a positive and active member of the research group and participate in social activities with the larger group of VSRP interns. In exchange, the intern will gain hands-on experience in high-throughput cloning techniques, CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering,transgenesis, critical thinking, and scientific presentation. And the opportunity to be part of a unique, international university environment and experience a fascinating part of the world.  

Faculty Name

Christian Froekjaer Jensen