Collaboration with iGEM Toulouse

We met the iGEM Toulouse Team during an “iGEM France” meeting. We were intrigued by their project aim of functionalizing cellulose and, assisted by the short transit time between cities, decided to spark a collaboration. The first meeting was in Montpellier in July where we had a brainstorming session followed by an exchange of war stories of difficult first steps in the lab.

Some of their team members had prior experience and helped lead us to useful software programs or general project organizational strategies. Throughout the summer we maintained an open pipeline of communication, sharing experimental difficulties and insights between teams.

Over the course of our brainstorming sessions, we realized that there were two interesting, mutually beneficial potential collaborations between our two projects. The first idea focused on using LL-37, one of the peptides with which we were working, as a functionalizable target for Cerberus, the multi-functionalizable cellulose-binding motif of the iGEM Toulouse team. The second idea was to test the biological activity of scygonadine, on the vaginal flora, as the iGEM Toulouse team was investigating its use in a potential anti-toxic shock tampon.

The goal of the first one is to fix a LL-37 a peptide used in iGEM Montpellier project to Cerberus the protein synthesize by iGEM Toulouse (Figure 1). The goal is to prove the versatility of the Cerberus protein and to integrated in the “filter” project to prevent dissemination.

Figure 1: Cerberus protein binded to LL-37 peptide.

The goal of the second experiment is to prove the biological activity of scygonadine on the vaginal flora as a concept of this part of the project was to design an anti toxic shock tampon.
Toulouse team was supposed to focus on the first experiment and our team on the second (Figure 2). Some experiments begun but time was missing for the completion of the two collaborative projects.

Figure 2: Diagram of our collaborative experiments.

Finally, we put an effort to create a joint fundraising project for the mutual French region of Occitanie that, while ultimately unsuccessful this year, may lay the seeds for future financial collaboration opportunities.

Collaboration with iGEM Sorbonne Université

After meeting them in Paris, we decided to collaborate with some students of Sorbonne University team.
We decided to help them continue a project started by the previous Sorbonne team: share our passion for biology and our vision of science with high school students. To this end, we decided to create a practical class for 2nd-year high school students. Our course was separated in two sessions: in the first, we gave a basic overview biology lecture with a hands-on practical lab component and in the second we analyzed the results of their experiments and presented the iGEM competition and our projects.
Two members of the Sorbonne team, Asmaa Foda and Saniya Kari, worked with us for the project. They were in charge of the handling supplies for the lab component (e.g. strains and materials). Our team was in charge of the presentation slides for the two sessions (e.g. presentation of the practical course, analysis of the results, presentation of iGEM and our projects). It was incredibly rewarding to discuss with the students about biology and as well as providing an ideal training ground for popularizing our project.

For more information about the lab class see our Education & Public Engagement page.