Synthetic, Functional and Evolutionary Genomics

Sequence determinants of expression in non-model bacteria

This project exemplifies how synthetic sequences can be used to delineate functional elements in poorly characterized genomes.

Our goals are:
Fundamental — to better understand expression control elements in non-model bacteria and enable comparison with others.
Applied — to produce an expression toolbox to engineer one of the abundant inhabitant of the healthy vaginal flora.

Genetic elements involved in the control of gene expression have been well-described in model bacteria. This knowledge have recently led to the development of standard toolboxes that greatly facilitate genetic engineering in these organisms.
We have been involved in vagineering, a project developed by Montpellier' first iGEM team that aimed at engineering a bacterial spermicide. This led us to start working with the bacteria Lactobacillus jensenii, one of the major species of the healthy vaginal flora. The progress of the team were quickly limited by the lack of suitable tools in this bacteria.

We are now using L. jensenii as a testbed to develop a pipeline for fast characterization of expression elements and interactions between them. We use genome-wide analyses of codon usage biases to select a limited number of sequences of interest and use DNA synthesis to explore variations and combinations.

Person involved: Elsa Fristot
Collaborators: Jerome Bonnet (CBS)