Department of MBS

Phone: (512) 471-5105
Fax: (512) 471-1218

NMS 3.316, STOP A5000
2506 Speedway
Austin TX 78712


Andrew Ellington

Molecular Biosciences, Applied Research Laboratories, Vice-President for Research

Wilson M. and Kathryn Fraser Research Professor in Biochemistry | Fellow of Mr. and Mrs. A. Frank Smith, Jr. Regents Chair in Molecular Biology

Phone: 512-232-3424

Office Location
MBB 3.424

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Molecular Biosciences, College of Natural Sciences
2506 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712

B.S., Michigan State University (1981)
Ph.D., Harvard University (1988)

Research Interests

Lab Goals:
The Ellington lab is attempting to develop novel synthetic organisms based on altering the translation apparatus and developing modular nucleic acid software. Translation engineering centers on the introduction of novel amino acids into proteins that have the capability to base-pair, and is being pursued using a variety of techniques, including directed evolution, computational design, and high-throughput synthesis. This latter capacity is abetted by a Gene Synthesis Facility capable of producing multiple kilobases of DNA per week. In parallel, DNA circuits based on strand exchange reactions and capable of executing embedded algorithms are being developed, using tools such as aptamers and DNA nanotechnology. The first application of these circuits will be in point-of-care diagnostics, but eventually these circuits should form the basis of a new, modular cellular operating system. We anticipate this operating system should also prove useful in cell-to-cell communication and drug delivery in organisms, and are actively pursuing in vivo studies. In order to enhance both engineering translation and installing DNA circuitry into cells, we have developed tools to directly synthesize operons, enable facile horizontal transfer, and edit genomes, and are interested in how such tools can be used to engineer cellular consortiums, including biofilms.

1) DeKosky BJ, Ippolito GC, Deschner RP, Lavinder JJ, Wine Y, Rawlings BM, Varadarajan N, Giesecke C, Dörner T, Andrews SF, Wilson PC, Hunicke-Smith SP, Willson CG, Ellington AD, and Georgiou G. (2013 Jan 20). High-throughput sequencing of the paired human immunoglobulin heavy and light chain repertoire. Nat Biotechnol 31(2):166-9. PMID: 23334449. DOI: doi:10.1038/nbt.2492

2) Maranhao AC, and Ellington AD. (2013 May 08). Endowing cells with logic and memory. Nat Biotechnol 31(5):413-5. PMID: 23657394. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2573

3) Chirieleison SM, Allen PB, Simpson ZB, Ellington AD, and Chen X. (2013 Dec 05). Pattern transformation with DNA circuits. Nat Chem 5(12):1000-5. PMID: 24256862. DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1764

4) Ellefson JW, Meyer AJ, Hughes RA, Cannon JR, Brodbelt JS, and Ellington AD. (2014 Jan). Directed evolution of genetic parts and circuits by compartmentalized partnered replication. Nat Biotechnol 32(1):97-101. PMID: 24185096. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2714

5) Hammerling MJ, Ellefson JW, Boutz DR, Marcotte EM, Ellington AD, and Barrick JE. (2014 Feb 02). Bacteriophages use an expanded genetic code on evolutionary paths to higher fitness. Nat Chem Biol 10(3):178-80. PMID: 24487692. PMCID: PMC3932624. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1450