2019 Winner: Portable Progesterone Production in Yeast

Project Information
Portable Progesterone Production in Yeast
BME 188A/B (iGEM Program)
Women around the world lack adequate access to safe and affordable methods of contraception. We, the 2018 University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team, have made significant progress in creating a safe, sustainable, and cheap progesterone-based contraceptive for all women, regardless of location or status. We engineered the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica (Yali) to synthesize progesterone because it naturally produces a progesterone precursor, ergosterol. By adding five enzymatic genes to the yeast genome, we induced steroid hormone production by completing the progesterone biosynthesis pathway. After attempting multiple methods of gene assembly and insertion, we successfully assembled and inserted these genes into the Yali genome via yeast-mediated cloning in Yali. Further experimentation is needed to incorporate the genes into the Yali chromosome to allow for stability during replication. Future work includes monitoring progesterone production following chromosome integration to determine a reliable and safe yeast contraceptive dosage. Given the proper food source, our self-replicating yeast biofactory will continue producing progesterone and provide a sustainable source of birth control.
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  • Jessica Faith Scherer (Eight)
  • Mykhaylo Dudkin (Ten)
  • Laura Diane Valine (Crown)
  • Danette Patricia Moreno (Porter)
  • Gina Y-Vang Tran Cuneo (Merrill)
  • Claire Elizabeth Bispo (Merrill)
  • Justin Lau (Nine)
  • Harman Singh (Oakes)
  • Manuel Varela Jr (Merrill)
  • Emily Katherine Mount (Ten)
  • Vanessa Jasmine Ventura (Nine)
  • Ryan Michael Modlin (Crown)
  • Nicholas Scott Hammond (Crown)
  • Morgan Claire Tardy (Stevenson)
  • Larry Hinojos (Ten)
  • Megan Eleanor Macpherson (Crown)