Modelling bacteriophage

Microbiology Today  Phage lambda is one of the key model organisms on which molecular biology was built. Such a wealth of existing knowledge on this organism makes it an ideal test model for systems biology. In this article in Microbiology Today (pdf) Rosalind Allen explores the usefulness of this bacteriophage to systems biology and vice versa:

Phage lambda, discovered in 1950, infects sensitive strains of E. coli. For a genome of only 48.5kb, packed into a particle of only 50nm diameter, this phage has attracted a lot of attention. Phage lambda became one of the key model organisms on which modern molecular biology was built. Over a period of intense study lasting 40 years, the genes in the phage lambda genome, the proteins encoded by them and the interactions between these genes and proteins were investigated in great detail. The humble phage lambda was the source of discoveries such as repression and activation mechanisms for gene regulation, chaperone proteins, DNA recombination and restriction enzymes, which microbiologists and many others now take for granted. This huge body of knowledge makes it the ideal test case for systems biology modelling.


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2 Responses to Modelling bacteriophage

  1. Bryan says:

    I find this completely fascinating. I had previously done research with some mathematical modeling of protein folding, but this area of research is on another level compared to my work. I wish that I had more time to explore the literature of systems biology…

    What kinds of programs are currently used in studies like those involving lambda? It seems to me that many of the methods explained in this short article could be applied to several other viruses and that this could provide a lot of insight into the mathematics AND randomness behind the processes.

  2. Ed Rybicki says:

    Another great article for the indoctrination of young minds; thanks!

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