Project Details


INSPIRE: Mimicking the Functional Complexity of Biology with Man-Made Systems Mimicking the Functional Complexity of Biology with Man-Made Systems Biology performs very complex processes using linear heteropolymers that are made by hooking together a relatively small set of monomers in a particular order. This rather digital approach to creating chemical function can in principle be applied to the development of molecular scale devices of our own creation. However, thus far, we have largely used libraries of molecules that cannot be individually assayed or computationally designed. In addition, the ability to organize functional components into devices or to create structured molecular interfaces that interrogate and control biological systems has been quite primitive. Recently, however, a number of technologies have come together which promise to provide truly new approaches to creating chemical complexity and molecular function that rivals that of biology. Methods have been developed to specifically design, fabricate, and interrogate millions of different molecules in ordered libraries. In addition, functional elements can be incorporated into molecular-scale devices with nanometer accuracy or interfaced directly with microelectronics, allowing both interrogation and control of complex chemical and biological systems. Here we propose to take the first step towards capitalizing on the combined power of these capabilities. We will start by creating an ordered library of multivalent synthetic ligands on a surface that has a molecular recognition capacity approaching that of the mammalian immune system. We will then use this library to enhance three research efforts; organizing and optimizing multienzyme reaction pathways using DNA nanostructures, interfacing redox proteins with electrodes using the bacterial photosynthetic reaction center as a model, and finally identifying eukaryotic cell types and controlling their gene expression patterns and growth/differentiation characteristics via specific molecular interactions.
Effective start/end date7/15/126/30/16


  • NSF: Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO): $999,904.00


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