In recent years, we have seen tremendous advancements in numerous areas of research, owing in large part to the advent of modern high-throughput technologies. However, certain research fields, such as gene function discovery, still employ conventional/traditional techniques, which often lack throughput, sensitivity and/or specificity. As a solution to these problems, Dr. Yingfu Li’s lab have proposed a new method for discovering the metabolic and transport pathways of a metabolite-of-interest in living bacterial cells by combining the use of a RNA-based sensor (i.e. a riboswitch sensor) that is responsive to the target metabolite, fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and high-throughput sequencing. As a proof of principle, they successfully demonstrated the efficacy of thier approach by targeting the genes involved in the transport and biosynthesis of vitamin B12, which is a particularly difficult pathway to study as the molecules involved are produced in trace-quantities. Overall, Li’s lab’s approach can be broadly employed in the study of metabolic pathways, and enhance the rate and accuracy of gene function discovery.
Read the full publication in PLOS.