A multi-task learning approach to enhance sustainable biomolecule production in engineered microorganisms (Proposals Track)

Erin Wilson (University of Washington); Mary Lidstrom (University of Washington); David Beck (University of Washington)

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A sustainable alternative to sourcing many materials humans need is metabolic engineering: a field that aims to engineer microorganisms into biological factories that convert renewable feedstocks into valuable biomolecules (i.e., jet fuel, medicine). Microorganism factories must be genetically optimized using predictable DNA sequence tools, however, for many organisms, the exact DNA sequence signals defining their genetic control systems are poorly understood. To better decipher these DNA signals, we propose a multi-task learning approach that uses deep learning and feature attribution methods to identify DNA sequence signals that control gene expression in the methanotroph M. buryatense. This bacterium consumes methane, a potent greenhouse gas. If successful, this work would enhance our ability to build gene expression tools to more effectively engineer M. buryatense into an efficient biomolecule factory that can divert methane pollution into valuable, everyday materials.

Recorded Talk (direct link)