Context-Aware Technology Mapping in Genetic Design Automation

Nicolai Engelmann, Tobias Schwarz, Erik Kubaczka, Christian Hochberger, Heinz Koeppl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic design automation (GDA) tools hold promise to speed-up circuit design in synthetic biology. Their widespread adoption is hampered by their limited predictive power, resulting in frequent deviations between the in silico and in vivo performance of a genetic circuit. Context effects, i.e., the change in overall circuit functioning, due to the intracellular environment of the host and due to cross-talk among circuits components are believed to be a major source for the aforementioned deviations. Incorporating these effects in computational models of GDA tools is challenging but is expected to boost their predictive power and hence their deployment. Using fine-grained thermodynamic models of promoter activity, we show in this work how to account for two major components of cellular context effects: (i) crosstalk due to limited specificity of used regulators and (ii) titration of circuit regulators to off-target binding sites on the host genome. We show how we can compensate the incurred increase in computational complexity through dedicated branch-and-bound techniques during the technology mapping process. Using the synthesis of several combinational logic circuits based on Cello's device library as a case study, we analyze the effect of different intensities and distributions of crosstalk on circuit performance and on the usability of a given device library.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-459
Number of pages14
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2023


  • Algorithms
  • Automation
  • Gene Library
  • Synthetic Biology/methods
  • Gene Regulatory Networks


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