Penn iGEM


Our goal was to enable epigenetic engineering. We believe synthetic biological systems should be as subtle and robust as their naturally occurring counterparts. DNA methylation has potential as an orthogonal means of silencing bacterial transcription, irrespective of the promoter.

  1. Validated a novel methylation assay, MaGellin, to accelerate development of epigenetic engineering tools.
  2. Designed and characterized a functional fusion protein to facilitate epigenetic engineering. De-noised the complex TAL-effector system, with implications for other genome engineering applications.
  3. Built a complementary MaGellin software package to automate experimental analysis. Uniquely, it can interpret methylation-sensitive DNA digestion and then interpret gel electrophoresis images. It is being developed for use by the DIYBio community.
  4. Created a specification sheet for the MaGellin Assay workflow, to facilitate quick development of site-specific methylases.
  5. BioBrick'ed our MaGellin plasmid so other iGEM teams can build off our work
  6. BioBrick'ed the M.sssI methylase and the M.sssI methylase with the linker we used for other teams working with methylases.
  7. Wrote an article on the ethical implications of epigenetic interventions, accepted for publication in the "nation's premier peer-reviewed undergraduate bioethics journal".
  8. Developed an open-source Laboratory Information Management System to help teams keep their labs organized.
  9. Promoted iGEM, synthetic biology, and our research at numerous outreach events to inspire future scientists
  10. Featured in an interview.
  11. North American regional Grand Prize winners and winners of Best BioBrick Measurement Approach award for our gel-electrophoresis assay.
  12. Invited to tour and speak with epigenetics experts at New England Biolabs about our assay and project.
  13. Published on the Mack Institute for Innovation Management website for our regional success.
  14. Featured interviews in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Danny uses MaGellin to screen a freshly cloned site-specific methylase before the World Jamboree