Tuebingen Erythrocyte Converter to O
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Erythrocytes (big red balls) have blood group antigens (colourful hexagons) on the surface of their membranes. These antigens consist of glycosilated proteins whereby there are different glycosilations for each blood group. The T-ECO system consists of three bacterial enzymes (blue Pac-Mans) that are able to cut off certain parts of the blood group glycosilations in order to create a blood group O antigen. The enzymes are covalently fused to a matrix (big yellow balls) via SNAP-Tag, SpyTag or inteins in order to prevent a mixing of blood and bacterial proteins.
This year, our project - Tuebingen Erythrocyte Converter to O (T-ECO) - was all about blood and blood transfusions. You might not have known but donor blood is a really rare resource - not only in hospitals in countries with weak medical infrastructure or in crisis regions after natural disasters but also in ordinary Central European hospitals. Due to the fact that humans have at least four different blood groups and two different Rhesus factors - all antigens on erythrocytes - you cannot simply transfuse any blood you want to any random patient. Thus, hospitals do need to always keep an eye on their stocks lest they they are hit by shortages.
Therefore, we decided to create a practical and easy to use system for the enzymatic conversion of blood types - from blood types A, B and AB to O. Blood type O consists of erythrocytes that do not show any blood type antigens thus can be transfered to any patient and is usually used as emergency donor blood for exactly this reason.
We want to warmly thank the following sponsors of our iGEM2014 project (in no particular order):