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Biological Circuit Virtual Lab

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Join cutting edge research at MIT and engineer a biological circuit that gets activated by cancer cells but not by healthy cells. Learn all the steps from the initial circuit construction, Gibbson assembly, and in vivo testing.

About the Biological Circuit Virtual Simulation Lab

The Biological Circuit Lab is the continuation of the Synthetic Biology Lab. In this lab, you will improve the design of the previous biological circuit to target cancer cells. You will use the Gibson assembly technique to clone the circuit parts into the vector that will deliver it to the cells.

Design a biological circuit

In the Biological Circuit lab, your first task is to combine different biological parts to create biological circuits and test them in a cell simulator. Use the specific microRNA profile of cancer cells to design an apoptotic biological circuit that will selectively kill cancer cells. You are the only hope for a patient with a rare form of cancer.

Learn about a novel method to assemble large circuits

The circuit parts are combined with the Gateway cloning technique to produce position vectors that will guide the insertion of the circuit parts into the final circuit. You will learn how unique nucleotide sequences in the position vectors can be used to assemble large biological circuits. Your task is to identify the right sequences to produce the required circular plasmid.

Use PCR to produce circuit parts

You will learn how to use the PCR technique to produce an additional DNA fragment that is needed for the Gibson assembly of the full circuit. After purifying the DNA fragments with magnetic beads, you will clone your plasmid vector with the Gibson assembly technique.The final task of the Biological Circuit lab is to test your circuit in living cells to see if the cancer cells are the only cells that die.

Will you be able to find a cure for this rare form of cancer?

Techniques In Lab

  • Genetic circuit modelling
  • Restriction digestion (I-SceI)
  • PCR
  • DNA purification with magnetic beads
  • Nanodrop measurement
  • DNA ligation
  • Gibson assembly

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • Understand the different elements of biological circuits
  • Use position vectors obtained by Gateway cloning to assemble large biological circuits with the Gibson assembly technique
  • Prepare equimolar amounts of different DNA fragments
  • Understand the basics of the PCR and how to use it to produce biological circuit parts

Screenshots of Biological Circuit Virtual Simulation Lab


Prof. Ron Weiss

Prof. Ron Weiss

Professor of Biological Engineering

Synthetic Biology Center at MIT

Shiva Kalinga, PhD

Shiva Kalinga, PhD

Managing Director

Synthetic Biology Center at MIT

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Our simulations run even on older laptops and computers, and you will be able to play our simulations without having to install any browser plugins.

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