iGEM: Interkingdom Communication, Fatima Sarfraz, UG '26; Ja'nae Gordon, UG '26; Dania Khalid, UG '26; Parth Rana, UG '26; Fatima Sarfraz, UG '26; Sanjana Venkatesh, UG '26; Brian Park, UG '26; Maia Weatherly, UG '25; and Meryl Liu, UG '25 (3993888)
The Princeton iGEM team will be undertaking a project to rewire bacterial and mammalian cells to communicate with each other via protein secretion. Bacterial cells can secrete proteins that can enter mammalian cells causing bacterial illnesses and infections. Our goal is to synthetically engineer this process so that we can target the mammalian cell in a manner of our choosing, helping the cell instead of harming it.To do this, we plan to engineer a communication circuit with two main components: a binding element and a secretion element. The first portion involves binding bacterial cells to mammalian cells; this will be accomplished by expressing a protein on the surface of the bacterial cell that the mammalian cell can bind to. Among the approaches we are considering for this are using synNotch (or molecular synthetic Notch) receptors, or expressing the RGD amino acid sequence on bacteria, which binds to naturally-expressed integrin proteins on the mammalian cell. The second component of the circuit involves engineering the bacteria to synthesize and secrete molecules that can affect the mammalian cell. We are considering modifying the EGFR cell signaling pathway, which is important for cell growth, and measuring the effects it has on the mammalian cell.