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Biological Circuit

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 This Simulation

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

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. 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.

Test your circuit

At the end, you will test your circuit in living cells to see if the cancer cells, indeed, are the only cells that die. Will you be able to find a cure for this rare form of cancer?



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

Learning Objectives

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

Techniques In This Simulation

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


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