Spatially resolved in vitro molecular ecology

McCaskill, John S. “Spatially resolved in vitro molecular ecology.” Biophysical chemistry 66, no. 2-3 (1997): 145-158.

Sensitive CCD-based fluorescence detection has made spatially resolved studies of evolving cell-free molecular systems possible. In recent years our attention has focussed on making the transition to open and interacting spatially-resolved amplification systems using silicon microreactor technology and on providing a hardware platform for individual based simulation of such systems. Significant progress has been achieved in this direction. Open microflow reactors have been realized in zero (well-mixed), one and two dimensions with volumes small enough to allow long-time studies with limited biochemical materials. The primer directed 3SR reaction (amplifying DNA and RNA) has been used as a basis for constructing interacting model systems with both predator-prey and cooperative amplification character. Theoretical work has demonstrated the need for individual based modeling of such systems: a significant fraction of the population consists of distinct sequence polymers in any case. A massively parallel processor-configurable computer NGEN has been designed and constructed which allows the high speed simulation in hardware of relatively large populations of locally interacting individual strings of chosen length (e.g. up to 2000∗2000 for 64 bases), in addition to its application as an evolvable hardware machine. Simulations show self-replicating spots to stabilize the cooperative amplification in evolving systems (a mechanism proposed by the author in 1994). Both oscillatory kinetics and pattern formation are expected in the experimental model systems under investigation which profoundly affect the course of evolution. Such in vitro model systems serve both to test current theories of cooperative evolution and provide clues for optimisation strategies in molecular biotechnology.

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