The proper execution and coordination of the multiple processes required for cellular life have been at the heart of thorough investigation during the last few decades. The detailed knowledge of the mechanisms that drive cellular events obtained from such studies is a key aspect of the efforts to understand living cells. However, it has become clear that alternative strategies other than the dissection of the molecular complexity regulating biological phenomena are necessary to unravel the core engine and basic principles underlying fundamental cellular processes.
Our lab is taking a synthetic biology approach to this question, focusing on the in vivo implementation of functional model circuits to understand the basis of natural cellular networks. We use the fission yeast cell cycle as a model eukaryotic system to understand: 1) the core molecular and dynamic inputs that control the sequence of cell cycle events and that limit the variability in cell cycle execution; 2) the establishment of optimal cell proliferation through evolutionary mechanisms; and 3) why evolution has chosen to adopt complexity in certain regulatory networks when it may appear to be dispensable. In the same way that model organisms have been pivotal for revealing the operation of conserved mechanisms, synthetic biology will allow us to extract general principles that govern the organization and evolution of essential cellular functions.