Mantis consists of several parts that together make up the cohesive system. As such, each team member was responsible for a specific module of the project. In addition, each member also played a specific role within the team, next to their lab or modeling work. Of our team, eight persons have performed wet-lab work and two persons performed modeling experiments to make Mantis a functioning system. Three main components can be distinguished: the detection, reporter and computation module.
This part encompasses everything involved in sensing antigens contained within a sample of interest. To start off, Niek generated virus-like particles (VLPs) of Zika, chikungunya and mayaro, while Linda made recombinant Trypanosoma brucei antigens. Each of these antigens will be used in our affinity body library screening. Here, affinity bodies will be generated against these antigens by Jurre. Now that the respective antigens and affinity bodies are available, the signal generation comes into play. We considered two methods of signal generation here: Stijn was responsible for the Cpx-based system, while Tom designed the ToxR-based system.
The generated signal must be transformed into a readable and quantifiable output. Bart extended the Cpx system to include two split halves of YFP, which come together under the influence of CpxR dimerization to generate fluorescence. On the modeling side of the project, Sabine worked together with both Bart and Stijn to make a functional model of the Cpx system kinetics. Finally, José chose the optimal reporter protein candidate out of a selection of split fluorescent and split chromoproteins.
Quorum Sensing Module
Finally, signal amplification was studied by Natalia, who employed a quorum sensing system to lyse cells and start an intensifying signalling cascade. Mark took care of the quorum sensing model and collaborated with Natalia to design the system.
Our team participated in the 2017 edition of the iGEM InterLab Study. These experiments were performed by Stijn and Jurre. Together, they performed the required wet-lab work for this, processed the accompanying data and sent it to iGEM HQ.
Each person also had a separate function within the team for the duration of iGEM. Niek is the Team Captain and is thus the contact point for other teams, the discussion leader during meetings and much, much more. For organizational issues, he gets help from Natalia, our ever-happy Secretary who took care of reserving all relevant rooms for our meetings, as well as writing down the details of every one of them and sending them to the rest of the team afterwards. To make sure that we had enough money, Bart and Jurre were part of the Funding group, whose goal it was to net us enough resources to carry out our lab work, travel expenses for conventions and ensure our place at the 2017 Jamboree. Cash flows were carefully watched by our Treasurer Stijn, who safeguarded our finances and guaranteed that we always had enough funds for our project. The Lab Manager, Tom, took care of equipment/resource orders and kept track of all lab expenses. Our Biosafety Officer José made sure everyone worked responsibly and contributed to the Safety documents required for iGEM. The Human Practices team consisted of Linda and Sabine, who were responsible for every event which involved outreach, as well as the development of the story that accompanies Mantis, and establishing contact with scientific experts. Our social media accounts were also managed by them. Mark was the Wiki Manager and is the reason that you are reading this right now on a beautiful, informative and comprehensive web page.
Head of the entire WUR iGEM 2017 team was Associate Professor dr. Christian Fleck, who was kindly assisted by Assistant Professor dr. Raymond Staals for the duration of the project. Dr. Marta Vázquez Vilar, Wen Wu, Prarthana Mohanraju and Rik van Rosmalen were responsible for supervision of students in the lab, while modeling students fell under the care of dr. Robert Smith and Emma Keizer. Occasionally, Stamatios Damalas would attend a meeting and provide us with help where needed. Special thanks goes out to dr. ir. Gorben Pijlman for setting up a collaboration between our team and the Laboratory of Virology, as well as supervision of the VLP project. Finally, dr. Bob Mulder assisted the Human Practices team in their endeavours.
Of course we want to thank everyone that supported us, from our anonymous financial sponsors to the professors and experts that advised us. The Laboratories of Microbiology (MIB) and Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB) also deserve our thanks, for allowing us to work here and all the helpful interactions with the nice people who assisted us. Finally, we would also like to thank the iGEM HQ and all its staff, for organizing this competition and making it possible for everyone to participate in such a wonderful event. Everyone: Thank you for making this possible and for the awesome year!