Like little factories, cells metabolize raw materials and convert them into chemical compounds. Biotechnologists take advantage of this ability, using microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals and biofuels. To boost output to an industrial scale and create new types of chemicals, biotechnologists manipulate the microorganisms’ natural metabolism, often by “overexpressing” certain genes in the cell. But such metabolic engineering is hampered by the fact that many genes become toxic to the cell when overexpressed.
Now, Allon Wagner, Uri Gophna and Eytan Ruppin of Tel Aviv Univ.’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science and Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, along with researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, have developed a computer algorithm that predicts which metabolic genes are lethal to cells when overexpressed. The findings, published in PNAS, could help guide metabolic engineering to produce new chemicals in more cost-effective ways.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/computer-algorithm-ids-toxic-genes