The BreaKERs – developing bacterial keratinase expression to degrade human hair and chicken feathers

Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy (Canmore)

The BreaKERs – our project aims to break down hair in wastewater treatment facilities, and to break down feather waste in the poultry industry

Team Grade Level: High School
STEM Focus:  Synthetic Biology
Optimizing keratinase expression (keritinase is an enzyme that breaks down keratin which is structural protein used in hair, nails, fur and feathers) provides a great opportunity to impact the management of the estimated 8.5 billion tons of poultry feather from farms globally as well as the tons of human hair clogging up waste water treatment facilities worldwide. Also, bio-degraded keratin from chicken feathers has been shown to be useful for commodity products such as fertilizers and livestock feeds. Our team is developing two keratinase-producing E. coli bacteria using the KERA and KERUS genetic sequences found naturally in the Bacillus genera. The KERA and KERUS sequences will be optimized for expression in E. coli, synthesized into plasmid rings, and ligated into a standard biobrick backbone for submission to the iGEM parts registry. An IPTG-inducible promotor (part BBa_J04500) from the standard registry of parts will then be added to each KER gene to express this protein.

iGEM Medal Achieved: Bronze


Posted on

January 17, 2023

Subscribe to our news and updates.

Join our mailing list.

You have Successfully Subscribed!