Bis(3’-5’)-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP), a bacterial second messenger regulating many processes including virulence, motility and biofilm formation, has been extensively studied in microbiology. Dr. Cao Bin’s team has done some work on harnessing the power of c-di-GMP signalling in controlling biofilm dynamics for environmental biotechnological applications. In particular, the team has recently engineered an enzyme that can be activated by near-infrared (NIR) light to produce c-di-GMP efficiently in bacterial cells and demonstrated that biofilm dynamics can be controlled using light.
Interestingly, animal cells do not produce c-di-GMP, but their immune response can be triggered by c-di-GMP for potential cancer immunotherapy. However, the application of c-di-GMP in immunotherapy is hampered by its poor membrane permeability, low biological half-life, and nontargeted distribution. In this project, Dr. Cao’s team will explore the use of their engineered light-activable c-di-GMP-producing biological systems to innovatively address these limitations and aims to develop a novel strategy for cancer immunotherapy. This is a highly interdisciplinary project and the project team include microbial biotechnologists and biomedical engineers.