Exeter/8 June 2013

From 2013.igem.org

Exeter iGEM 2013 · Paint by Coli

Dr. Christine Sambles visited us to go over some of the aspects of an iGEM project that the physicists and our electrical engineer in our team might not be certain of.

The ‘omics

The Central Dogma

  • Introns are “non-coding” sections of DNA; sometimes called “junk” DNA, but actually contain useful data and codes!
  • Exons are the coding sections of DNA (genes)
  • Splicing is when the introns are cut out of the copied RNA and the exons are spliced together
  • The RNA acts like a messenger (mRNA) telling an enzyme (ribosome) the code of amino acids needed to make a protein

Mapping genomes

  • Cost and time to map a genome has dramatically dropped
  • Next generation sequencing – lots of different methods (Illumina, Roche 454, SOLiD, SuperSAGE, etc)
  • Genome is broken into fragments and clonally replicated before being sequenced (Illumina method)


  • See which genes are being transcribed at one time period (usually looks at which mRNA is present in a cell)


  • Which proteins are present in a cell
  • WAY more complex! Proteins have lots of extra groups added so it isn’t a simple amino acid code (eg. metal ions incorporated into active site)


  • Levels of metabolites in a cell (eg metabolic intermediates, hormones and other signalling molecules, and secondary metabolites)

With all of these ‘omics, you usually only get a “snap shot” of the cell. What if the RNA/DNA you’re interested in is only expressed in really low levels? What if the RNA is digested before it gets turned into a protein?

Mass Spectrometry

  • Gas chromatography – “time of flight” tells us the mass of a molecule

Data management

  • Tb of data every week
  • Can outsource interpreting to other companies

Take me back to the notebook

Exeter iGEM 2013 · Paint by Coli