Biotechnology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Lacrimal glands maintain a healthy corneal epithelium but are dysfunctional for example in dry-eye disease. Here, the authors transplant bioengineered lacrimal and harderian gland germs into mice, where they connect to the host duct and nervous system and restore lacrimal gland function.

    • Masatoshi Hirayama
    • , Miho Ogawa
    •  & Takashi Tsuji
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Salivary gland dysfunction as a result of diseases or ageing reduces the quality of life and causes various oral health problems. Here the authors show that the salivary gland function of mice can be recovered by orthotopic transplantation of a bioengineered salivary gland germ.

    • Miho Ogawa
    • , Masamitsu Oshima
    •  & Takashi Tsuji
  • Article |

    Cre recombinase is widely used to precisely manipulate genes and chromosomes, but it often displays off-target activity. Here, the authors improve the accuracy of Cre-mediated recombination by introducing specific mutations in the enzyme’s dimerization surface.

    • Nikolai Eroshenko
    •  & George M. Church
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Transport of DNA molecules across lipid membranes requires protein conduits such as the nuclear pore complex. Franceschiniet al.engineer an artificial sequence-selective DNA transporter by attaching gating oligonucleotides to a bacterial nanopore.

    • Lorenzo Franceschini
    • , Misha Soskine
    •  & Giovanni Maglia
  • Article |

    Tissue engineering relies on the vascular compatibility of the synthesised constructs with target tissues. Here, the authors fabricate a prevascularised tissue construct of cell-laden hydrogel fibres as a framework that allows the formation of vascularised adipose and hepatic tissues.

    • Meng Fatt Leong
    • , Jerry K. C. Toh
    •  & Jackie Y. Ying
  • Article |

    The potential tumorigenicity of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) limits their application in cell therapies. Ben-David et al.identify the tight-junction protein Claudin-6 as a cell-surface marker of hPSCs, and demonstrate three Claudin-6-based strategies to remove tumorigenic hPSCs from mixed cell cultures.

    • Uri Ben-David
    • , Neta Nudel
    •  & Nissim Benvenisty
  • Article |

    Artificially engineered tissues may be useful for regenerative therapies but their fabrication tends to be complicated. Stevens et al. present a technique for the precise organization of microstructurally complex tissues that works with a variety of cell types and does not require sophisticated equipment.

    • K. R. Stevens
    • , M. D. Ungrin
    •  & S. N. Bhatia
  • Article |

    Guanine-rich DNA can form four-stranded structures called G-quadruplexes, which are thought to influence DNA replication, transcription and repair; their stability and prevalence in the genome is in need of further elucidation. Here the authors employ an antibody-based approach to sensitively map G-quadruplexes in the genome.

    • Enid Yi Ni Lam
    • , Dario Beraldi
    •  & Shankar Balasubramanian
  • Article |

    The identification of hosts of blood-sucking insects is important for studying ecological factors that affect pathogen distribution. Önder et al. report a proteomics-based methodology for the analysis of blood remnants in ticks that identifies the host species from which the tick has fed up to 6 months earlier.

    • Özlem Önder
    • , Wenguang Shao
    •  & Dustin Brisson
  • Article |

    The complex shapes of biological tissues are often formed as a result of stress modulations. Wu et al.exploit such behaviour experimentally and theoretically to demonstrate a new mechanism of the formation of three-dimensional structures that is driven by engineered small-scale stresses within patterned hydrogel sheets.

    • Zi Liang Wu
    • , Michael Moshe
    •  & Eugenia Kumacheva
  • Article |

    Bacterial type III secretion systems (T3SS) improve the delivery of vaccine antigens and antigen-specific immune responses but require the use of live vaccines. Carleton et al. report the assembly of a functional T3SS in replication-incompetent bacterial minicells that can deliver vaccine antigens in vitro and in vivo.

    • Heather A. Carleton
    • , María Lara-Tejero
    •  & Jorge E. Galán
  • Article |

    Primary sensory areas of newborn mammals typically display input-dependent plasticity. Thomson and colleagues use a sensory prosthetic device in rats to show that adult rats can discriminate different infrared light signals, when the signals are routed to somatosensory cortex by electrical microstimulation.

    • Eric E. Thomson
    • , Rafael Carra
    •  & Miguel A.L. Nicolelis
  • Article |

    Gene circuits created by synthetic biologists working in one system may not be functional when transferred to a different organism. Using computational modelling to identify factors underlying such differences, the authors successfully adapt a yeast ‘linearizer’ circuit so that it functions in mammalian cells.

    • Dmitry Nevozhay
    • , Tomasz Zal
    •  & Gábor Balázsi
  • Article |

    Genome-wide variation in the directed evolution of metabolite-overproducing microbes requires high-throughput screening platforms. Yang et al.show that synthetic RNA devices can sense target metabolites, enrich pathway optimisation, and expedite the evolution of metabolite-producing microbes.

    • Jina Yang
    • , Sang Woo Seo
    •  & Gyoo Yeol Jung
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Artificially engineered tissues may have many therapeutic applications but complex tissues are hard to create in vitro. Here, Okano and colleagues report the production of functional cardiac tissue sheets with perfusable blood vessels, which increase the thickness and survival of transplanted tissue.

    • Hidekazu Sekine
    • , Tatsuya Shimizu
    •  & Teruo Okano
  • Article |

    Microbial fatty acid-derived fuels represent promising alternatives to the traditionally used fossil fuels. Koffas and colleagues report that E. colicentral metabolism can be modified to produce large quantities of fatty acids through a modular pathway engineering strategy.

    • Peng Xu
    • , Qin Gu
    •  & Mattheos A.G. Koffas
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Genetic modification in insects mostly involves the use of fluorescent markers to identify successful transformation. Here Osanai-Futahashi et al.report a marker system based on changes in melanin pigmentation that allows the identification of genetically modified insects with the naked eye.

    • Mizuko Osanai-Futahashi
    • , Takahiro Ohde
    •  & Hideki Sezutsu
  • Article |

    Microparticles are small vesicular structures that are shed from cellular plasma membranes. Tang and colleagues show that cells treated with chemotherapeutic drugs produce drug-containing microparticles, which can be used as anticancer agents in mice.

    • Ke Tang
    • , Yi Zhang
    •  & Bo Huang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ability of oleaginous fungi to produce lipids for biofuels remains untapped, in part due to a lack of genetic information required to engineer industrial strains. Zhuet al. present the genome of R. toruloides, and identify transcriptomic and proteomic changes associated with lipid production.

    • Zhiwei Zhu
    • , Sufang Zhang
    •  & Zongbao K. Zhao
  • Article |

    Calcium-sensing fluorescent proteins such as TN-XXL are valuable tools for studying cellular function but, when expressed in mice, may affect animal physiology and behaviour. The authors of this paper create transgenic mice expressing TN-XXL and show that long-term expression of TN-XXL is tolerated well.

    • Stephan Direnberger
    • , Marsilius Mues
    •  & Oliver Griesbeck
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ganoderma lucidumis a macrofungus in traditional Chinese medicine known to produce different bioactive compounds. In this study, the genome ofG. lucidumis sequenced, making this organism a potential model system for future studies of secondary metabolic pathways and their regulation in medicinal fungi.

    • Shilin Chen
    • , Jiang Xu
    •  & Chao Sun
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Signalling inputs to neural progenitors regulate the differentiation of the stem cell pool. By analysing the mechanisms occuring during neurogenesis, Cambrayet al. report that activin is the pivotal factor regulating the differentiation of telencephalic neural precursors towards a cortical interneuron fate.

    • Serafí Cambray
    • , Charles Arber
    •  & Tristan A. Rodríguez
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Bioengineered hair follicles can be produced from embryonic follicle germ cells, but whether these follicles can interact with the surrounding tissue and function normally is unknown. Here, bioengineered hair follicles transplanted into mouse dermis make connections with the surrounding tissue and show normal hair cycles.

    • Koh-ei Toyoshima
    • , Kyosuke Asakawa
    •  & Takashi Tsuji
  • Article |

    Graphene is characterized by unique physical properties that offer substantial promise, most notably for electronic applications. Mannooret al. present a wireless graphene-based sensor for detecting bacteria on a range of biological tissues.

    • Manu S. Mannoor
    • , Hu Tao
    •  & Michael C. McAlpine
  • Article |

    Bioassays are the standard way to measure prion infectivity titres, but can be time-consuming. In this study, bioassays are compared with a modified version of the protein misfolding cyclic amplification technique with beads (PMCAb), demonstrating that PMCAb can be more precise and faster than bioassays.

    • Natallia Makarava
    • , Regina Savtchenko
    •  & Ilia V. Baskakov
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Algae show much promise in the production of biofuels owing to their high photoautotrophic biomass and lipid production rates. In this study, the draft genome ofNannochloropsis gaditanaCCMP526 and a method for the transformation of this alga are reported, facilitating the investigation of lipid synthesis and biofuel production.

    • Randor Radakovits
    • , Robert E. Jinkerson
    •  & Matthew C. Posewitz
  • Article |

    RNA can be silenced in a sequence-specific manner but whether proteins can silence RNA in this way is unknown. Now, Yamaguchi and colleagues show that an enzyme isolated fromHaloquadra walsbyi cleaves 7-base-pair sequences in Escherichia coli, and this high sequence specificity permits the silencing of targeted genes.

    • Yoshihiro Yamaguchi
    • , Hirofumi Nariya
    •  & Masayori Inouye
  • Article |

    Nanomechanical resonators are attractive as ultra-low concentration sensors of biomolecules, as their small scale allows for sensitive mass detection. Here, using a nanowire array as part of a photonic crystal, such a device is presented for light trapping, absorption and low-concentration sensing.

    • Yuerui Lu
    • , Songming Peng
    •  & Amit Lal
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Advanced biofuels with comparable properties to petroleum-based fuels could be microbially produced from lignocellulosic biomass. In this study,Escherichia coliis engineered to produce bisabolene, the immediate precursor of bisabolane, a biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel.

    • Pamela P. Peralta-Yahya
    • , Mario Ouellet
    •  & Taek Soon Lee
  • Article |

    Protein microarrays are useful both in basic research and also in disease monitoring and diagnosis, but their dynamic range is limited. By using plasmonic gold substrates with near-infrared fluorescent enhancement, Tabakman et al. demonstrate a multiplexed protein array with improved detection limits and dynamic range.

    • Scott M. Tabakman
    • , Lana Lau
    •  & Hongjie Dai
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Secondary metabolites are widely used in human health and nutrition, but extraction yields from plants are often low. Nakagawaet al. have engineered the metabolism of Escherichia colito develop a fermentation system that produces plant alkaloids from simple carbon sources.

    • Akira Nakagawa
    • , Hiromichi Minami
    •  & Hidehiko Kumagai
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The control of cell fate and apoptosis is a continuing challenge in synthetic biology. In this study, systems are developed in which an intracellularly expressed genome-encoded protein simultaneously achieves up- and downregulation of two distinct apoptosis pathways.

    • Hirohide Saito
    • , Yoshihiko Fujita
    •  & Tan Inoue
  • Article |

    Hydrogen production using photosynthetic bacteria is an appealing energy source, but typically the bacteria require anaerobic conditions. Here, the authors report a wild-type cyanobacterium strain that shows very high rates of hydrogen production under aerobic environmental conditions.

    • Anindita Bandyopadhyay
    • , Jana Stöckel
    •  & Himadri B. Pakrasi
  • Article |

    Fluorescent proteins are widely used in molecular biology to visualize protein expression and localization. Here, Krizet al. describe an efficient and flexible modular plasmid-based eukaryotic expression cloning strategy for the homogeneous expression of several fluorescent proteins in one cell.

    • Andrijana Kriz
    • , Katharina Schmid
    •  & Philipp Berger