Synthetic Gene Circuits


­Engineering synthetic gene circuits allows scientists to design cells to perform any number of tasks such as biosensing, therapeutic or commodity production or bioremediation to name a few. An important design principle when engineering sophisticated synthetic gene circuits is modularity as it breaks the system down into small modules, thereby reducing complexity. However, even with rigorous rounds of design-build-test iterations, the whole circuit often does not function as anticipated. Resource competition has been suggested as a reason for such performance failures; limited resources may result in undesired competition between the modules within one gene circuit. Understanding how the modules in a circuit are unintentionally coupled is essential to mitigate resource competition and modularity loss.
Researchers at Arizona State University have created a synthetic cascading bistable switches (Syn-CBS) circuit system that addresses the obstacle of resource competition in designing synthetic gene circuits. These Syn-CBS systems manage resource competition between the modules of the synthetic gene circuit. The Syn-CBS system comprises two modules that may be expressed in one cell/the same kind of cell (single strain), or each expressed in different kinds of cells (two-strain). Testing with both the single- and two-strain Syn-CBS circuits show corrections in micro-organism consortia of deviated cell fate transitions due to resource competition. The effect of the resource competition on the circuit is minimized through a division of labor using microbial consortia.
This circuit system builds synthetic cascading bistable switches circuits to achieve successful cell fate transitions.
Potential Applications
  • Single-strain Syn-CBS circuits can be used to test the other controlling strategies of resource competition
  • Two-strain Syn-CBS circuits can be used for studying the multiple cell fate transition and delivery of multiple drugs
  • Engineering multicellular synthetic systems and metabolic pathways
    • Biomedicine
    • Environmental science
    • Applied life science
Benefits and Advantages
  • The Syn-CBS circuits can be utilized to coordinate multiple cell fate decisions.
  • Deviated cell fate transitions due to resource competition were corrected in micro-organism consortia
  • Reduces or eliminates unfavorable circuit-host interactions
    • Increases performance for making machinery for transcriptional and translational purposes when using microbial consortia
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