FURI | Fall 2020

Developing a Screening Method in Preparation for Directed Evolution of Cyanophycin Synthetase

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This project’s motivation is to determine if the enzyme cyanophycin synthetase (CphA) can be engineered to incorporate non-natural amino-acids in its active site to produce novel variants of cyanophycin, a naturally made biopolymer. E. coli cell cultures expressing the enzyme CphA will be harvested alongside the Wild-Type. Different concentrations of canavanine, a non-natural amino-acid, will be added to both types of cells in media solutions. Growth rate will be tracked over 24 hours to determine if CphA provides a growth advantage. This will provide a baseline for the directed evolution of CphA to incorporate other amino-acids into the cyanophycin biopolymer.

Student researcher

Wyatt D. Blackson

Chemical engineering

Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

Graduation date: Spring 2023