Tools and Principles for Microbial Gene Circuit Engineering

Robert Bradley, Martin Buck, Baojun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Synthetic biologists aim to construct novel genetic circuits with useful applications through rational design and forward engineering. Given the complexity of signal processing that occurs in natural biological systems, engineered microbes have the potential to perform a wide range of desirable tasks that require sophisticated computation and control. Realising this goal will require accurate predictive design of complex synthetic gene circuits and accompanying large sets of quality modular and orthogonal genetic parts. Here we present a current overview of the versatile components and tools available for engineering gene circuits in microbes, including recently developed RNA-based tools that possess large dynamic ranges and can be easily programmed. We introduce design principles that enable robust and scalable circuit performance such as insulating a gene circuit against unwanted interactions with its context, and we describe efficient strategies for rapidly identifying and correcting causes of failure and fine-tuning circuit characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-888
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number5Pt B
Early online date20 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • engineering tools
  • gene circuit
  • modularity and orthogonality
  • synthetic biology
  • transcriptional and translational control


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