DARPA Synthetic Organelles: Assembly and Applications RFI

DARPA BTO has released the Synthetic Organelles: Assembly and Applications RFI, DARPA-SN-17-05.  This RFI is requesting responses for “novel technologies that enable controlled, functional compartmentalization in cells and/or cell-free systems, to complement efforts at BTO in synthetic biology and engineering biology broadly.”

“Current research efforts to build and apply engineered compartmentalization generally focus on the characterization or minimal modification of existing organelles or compartments. Demonstrated applications of engineered compartmentalization by targeting enzymes to existing organelles, such as peroxisomes and mitochondria, typically aim to increase the yield of simple biochemical reactions for metabolic engineering. This RFI seeks to identify the remaining challenges and potential solutions to advance beyond these limited capabilities and applications at the state of the art.”

Topics of interest, but are not limited to:

  1. Technologies to assemble structures for compartmentalization in vivo and/or in vitro, with emphasis on programmed, de novo self-assembly.
  2. Methods to deliver structures for compartmentalization to a desired location inside the cell and, if assembled outside the cell, across the cell membrane.
  3. Strategies for ensuring the maintenance and/or reproduction of structures for compartmentalization, for example, to avoid rejection by the cell and/or dilution during cell doubling.
  4. Techniques to maximize the generalizability of structures for compartmentalization and function across various cell types and/or cell-free systems.
  5. Strategies to improve control of mechanisms to import and/or export biomolecules to/from structures for compartmentalization in cells and/or cell-free systems.
  6. Quantitative tools and methods for the effective characterization of the structure and function of compartmentalization strategies in real-time.
  7. Technologies to direct in real-time interactions between the structure for compartmentalization and the intra- or intercellular environment, for dynamic control of function.
  8. Identification of high-impact, real-world applications that are prohibitively difficult or impossible at the state of the art to best demonstrate the potential for engineered compartmentalization to advance synthetic biology and engineering biology broadly.
  9. Suggestions for novel compartmentalization strategies and applications that may have no clear analogy to natural biological compartmentalization or function

Five (5) page responses are dueDecember 2, 2016.  The program manager is Dr. Elizabeth Strychalski.

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