Quorum-sensing repressor-based tools for cell-cell communication in synthetic biology

Shong, Jasmine
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Collins, Cynthia H.
Tessier, Peter M.
Dordick, Jonathan S.
Julius, Anak Agung
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Chemical and biological engineering
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This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
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Microbial communities that exhibit coordinated, population-dependent behaviors have been engineered for use in applications of biotechnology, therapeutics, bioprocessing, and synthetic biology. Intercellular communication enables these mixed cell populations to receive foreign signals, transfer into metabolic activities, and form interactions with each other. This process requires reliable communication pathways that function in single populations and also multispecies communities. Synthetic biology provides the platform to engineer biological systems at every life form. Biological components, like DNA, RNA, and proteins, are treated as parts and can be integrated to form novel systems with non-native functions. Therefore, natural intercellular communication systems can be modified or provide components to build artificial communication pathways such that communication is enabled in unique combinations of cell populations However, limitations often arise upon the construction of modules due to a lack of available, well-characterized “tools” in synthetic biology. Quorum sensing (QS) is a type of cell-cell communication in bacteria via exchange of small chemical molecules. QS-mediated functions are regulated by QS transcription regulators, acting as activators or repressors, in response to the QS signal molecules as a function of local cell population. QS activators require direct interactions with RNA polymerase (RNAP) for gene activation and can only function with specific organization of the promoter. Unlike activators, QS repressors are “derepressed” by signal molecules and then released from the promoter sites, to allow binding of RNAP to initiate gene expression. Thus, QS repressors do not require interactions with RNAP.
August 2013
School of Engineering
Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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