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Uncovering how cells control their protein output

Posted
January 4, 2023

Gene-Wei Li investigates the rules that cells use to maintain the correct ratio of the proteins they need to survive.

A typical bacterial genome contains more than 4,000 genes, which encode all of the proteins that the cells need to survive. How do cells know just how much of each protein they need for their everyday functions?

Gene-Wei Li, an MIT associate professor of biology, is trying to answer that question. A physicist by training, he uses genome-wide measurements and biophysical modeling to quantify cells’ protein production and discover how cells achieve such precise control of those quantities.

Using those techniques, Li has found that cells appear to strictly control the ratios of proteins that they produce, and that these ratios are consistent across cell types and across species.

“Coming from a physics...

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A new control system for synthetic genes

Posted
November 1, 2022

Researchers have developed a technique that could help fine-tune the production of monoclonal antibodies and other useful proteins.

 

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News

A “door” into the mitochondrial membrane

Posted
October 25, 2022

Study finds the protein MTCH2 is responsible for shuttling various other proteins into the membrane of mitochondria. The finding could have implications for cancer treatments and MTCH2-linked conditions.

 

New...

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What drives ecosystems to instability?

Posted
October 6, 2022

With only a little information, researchers can predict the circumstances under which an ecosystem will be stable or unstable.

MIT researchers studied ecosystems of up to 48 species of bacteria and discovered how the communities shift from stable to unstable states. 

Credits:Image: William Lopes, Gore Lab

 

Trying to decipher all of the factors that influence the behavior of complex ecological communities can be a daunting task. However, MIT researchers have now shown that the behavior of these ecosystems can be predicted based on just two pieces of information: the number of species in the community and how strongly they interact with each other.

In studies of bacteria grown in the lab, the researchers were able to define three states of...