The group focuses on the development of approaches derived from synthetic and systems biology. The aim is to gain a deep understanding of the mechanisms underlying biological processes and design optimized, DNA or RNA-based genetic circuits for biomedical applications
Synthetic devices that interface with endogenous processes with minimal interference with cellular physiology are critical for the effectiveness of synthetic biology based therapeutics. Our goal is to implement new foundational technologies (i.e. newly designed transcription factors) and to investigate the burden that genetic payloads impose to the cells. In particular our lab focuses on the role of microRNAs in post-transcriptional burden as means of allocation of cellular resources for efficient mRNA degradation and protein translation.
On the other hand, successful implementation of engineered DNA or RNA therapeutics for biomedicine requires a profound understanding of cellular physiopathology. For example T-cell exhaustion is a process whereby “active” T cells become “dysfunctional”, compromising the development of effective immune responses against a wide range of diseases. Yet, the biological mechanisms underlying T-cell exhaustion remain unclear. By combining RNA-Seq data and microRNA profiling, with design of optogenetics-responsive genetic devices we aim at investigating the role of microRNAs as regulators of T-cell progression from activation towards exhaustion.