Michael C. Jewett Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Research Interests

Biomolecular Engineering, Synthetic Biology, and Systems Biology

Our research aims to engineer biological systems for compelling applications in medicine and biotechnology. We focus on cell-free systems, with particular emphasis on protein synthesis and metabolism. Engineering cell-free systems both tests our understanding of how life works and generates useful, cost-effective factories for manufacturing human therapeutics and valuable biochemicals that are difficult to make in vivo. Our approach is to integrate fundamental research and engineering design principles with technology development. Our interdisciplinary efforts take advantage of synergies at the crossroads of biological and engineering science. They represent a bottom-up approach to synthetic biology. The key idea is that design and construction of biological systems will become easier and more reliable if we can develop foundational technologies that partition biology into simple modular pieces that we can directly manipulate and control. To this end, it is desirable to reduce the complexity of existing biological systems and remove unnecessary overhead (e.g. unnecessary genes and evolutionary baggage). Cell-free systems, which are decoupled from the genetic architecture of the cell, offer a unique platform to address this need. They reduce complexity, lack structural boundaries, are free from cell viability constraints, and can direct catalytic resources towards a single objective. As a result, cell-free systems promise to catalyze a new paradigm for studying, tuning, and controlling life. 

Selected Publications

In Vitro Reconstruction of Nonribosomal Peptide Biosynthesis Directly from DNA Using Cell-Free Protein SynthesisGoering AW, Li J, McClure RA, Thomson RJ, Jewett MC, and Kelleher NL. ACS Synthetic Biology. 2017 January 20;6(1):39-44.

Leveraging genome-wide datasets to quantify the functional role of the anti-Shine–Dalgarno sequence in regulating translation efficiencyHockenberry AJ, Pah AR, Jewett MC, and Amaral LAN. Open Biology. 2017 January 18;7:160239.

NullSeq: A Tool for Generating Random Coding Sequences with Desired Amino Acid and GC Contents. Liu SS, Hockenberry AJ, Lancichinetti A, Jewett MC, and Amaral LAN. PLoS Computational Biology. 2016 November 11;12(11):e1005184.

Depletion of Shine-Dalgarno Sequences Within Bacterial Coding Regions Is Expression Dependent. Yang C, Hockenberry AJ, Jewett MC, and Amaral LAN. G3. 2016 November 1;6(11):3467-3474.

Cell-free protein synthesis enables high yielding synthesis of an active multicopper oxidase. Li J, Lawton TJ, Kostecki JS, Nisthal A, Fang J, Mayo SL, Rosenzweig AC, and Jewett MC. Biotechnology Journal. 2016 February;11(2):212-218.

Repurposing the translation apparatus for synthetic biologyDes Soye BJ, Patel JR, Isaacs FJ, and Jewett MC. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology. 2015 October;28:83-90.

Energizing eukaryotic cell-free protein synthesis with glucose metabolism. Anderson MJ, Stark JC, Hodgman CE, and Jewett MC. FEBS Letters. 2015 July 8;589(15):1723-1727.

Implications of macromolecular crowding and reducing conditions for in vitro ribosome construction. Fritz BR, Jamil OK, and Jewett MC. Nucleic Acids Research. 2015 May 19;43(9):4774-4784.

Characterizing and Alleviating Substrate Limitations for Improved in vitro Ribosome ConstructionLiu Y, Fritz BR, Anderson MJ, Schoborg JA, and Jewett MC. ACS Synthetic Biology. 2015 April 17;4(4):454-462.

Controlled Assembly of Artificial Protein-Protein Complexes via DNA Duplex Formation. Płoskoń E, Wagner SC, Ellington AD, Jewett MC, O'Reilly R, and Booth PJ. Bioconjugate Chemistry. 2015 March 18;26(3):427-434.

High-throughput preparation methods of crude extract for robust cell-free protein synthesis. Kwon Y-C and Jewett MC. Scientific Reports. 2015 March 2;5:8663.

Cell-free metabolic engineering: Biomanufacturing beyond the cell. Dudley QM, Karim AS, and Jewett MC. Biotechnology Journal. 2015 January;10(1):69-82.

Characterizing IGR IRES-mediated translation initiation for use in yeast cell-free protein synthesis. Hodgman CE and Jewett MC. New Biotechnology. 2014 September 25;31(5):499-505.

Quantifying Position-Dependent Codon Usage BiasHockenberry AJ, Sirer MI, Amaral LAN, and Jewett MC. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 2014 July;31(7):1880-1893.

Cell-free Protein Synthesis from a Release Factor 1 Deficient Escherichia coli Activates Efficient and Multiple Site-specific Nonstandard Amino Acid Incorporation. Hong SH, Ntai I, Haimovich AD, Kelleher NL, Isaacs FJ, and Jewett MC. ACS Synthetic Biology. 2014 June 20;3(6):398-409.

View all publications by Michael C. Jewett listed in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed). Current and former IBiS students in blue.