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Advanced Computing, Mathematics and Data
Research Highlights

October 2017

Yeung Lands Prestigious Journal Entry

Enoch Yeung, a researcher with PNNL’s National Security Directorate, had his work featured in the July issue of the journal, Cell Systems. The paper, “Biophysical Constraints Arising from Compositional Context in Synthetic Gene Networks,” resulted from Yeung’s collaboration with researchers from the California Institute of Technology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and University of California, Berkeley.

Enoch Yeung

The paper explores the role of feedback and interference in genetically engineered bacteria. The team proposed that variations in gene placement in synthetic gene networks can give rise to transcriptional interference, and these effects stem from biophysical constraints related to DNA supercoiling. Once their hypotheses were validated, they were able to reengineer a biological memory device with a memory state that persisted 72 generations longer than previously. The results of this work will inform optimization of genetic circuits employed in biosensing, living foundries, and biological computing.

Cell Systems is a broad, multidisciplinary monthly journal for outstanding research that provides, supports, or applies systems-level understanding in the life sciences and related disciplines.


Yeung E, AJ Dy, KB Martin, AH Ng, D Del Vecchio, JL Beck, JJ Collins, and RM Murray. 2017. “Biophysical Constraints Arising from Compositional Context in Synthetic Gene Networks.” Cell Systems 5(1):11-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.cels.2017.06.001.

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