Biological circuits are one of the most exciting developments in synthetic biology. They could allow biological parts to mimic the logical functions we see in electronic circuits. However, up to now, they have been difficult to test.
Researchers from Rice University and the University of Houston have developed mathematical models to predict the performance of multi-input synthetic biological circuits. These circuits can be used to start or stop the production of proteins within a cell.
“This provides a way of designing and constructing large synthetic gene circuits more efficiently,” Rice synthetic biologist Matthew Bennett explains, “In the same way that we can predict how electronic circuits work before we build them by modelling them in computers, now we can do that with these gene circuits as well.”
While the idea behind biological circuits might seem simple (they are able to switch gene expression on and off in response to conditions in a cell) the very complicated to develop.
This level of unprecedented precision in programming microorganisms is set to bring about a revolution in existing revolution in biological sensing tech and could potentially allow new medical treatments based around customised bacteria.
The problem has been that the ability to create these new circuits has raced ahead of researchers abilities to analyse the thousands of ways genetic parts can be combined in different cell environments.
The new technique should remove the need for the trial-and-error approach that has been used up to now. Allowing researchers to model the response in a biological circuit.
Published at “Predicting Transcriptional Output of Synthetic Multi-input Promoters” in ACS Synth. Biol DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00165