Scientists Genetically Engineer Yeast to Improve Understanding of How Cells Work
Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London,
together with AstraZeneca, have used mathematical modelling and genome
engineering to edit yeast cells to help scientists control not just what the
cells sense but how they react to what they sense in a more desirable way.
Yeast senses its environment using G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs).
GPCRs enable cells to sense chemical substances such as hormones, poisons,
and drugs in their environment. They can also act as light, smell, and
flavor receptors. The Cambridge team developed a mathematical model of the
yeast cell with varied concentrations of different cell components and found
the optimum levels for the most efficient signalling of each one. This
information was then used by researchers at Imperial College London to
genetically modify cells.
Dr. William Shaw, a researcher at Imperial College London said the new
information enabled them to understand exactly how to genetically engineer a
cell so it senses something in a way that can be controlled. Through the
computational findings, the team created a highly-modified strain of yeast
with all the non-essential interactions within the GPCR signalling pathway
removed. This allowed them to predictably alter the way cells responded to