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J Biotechnol. 2006 Mar 9;122(1):99-121. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

Genetic network driven control of PHBV copolymer composition.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA.


We developed a detailed mathematical model describing the coupling between the molecular weight distribution dynamics of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) copolymer chains with those of hydroxybutyrate (HB) and hydroxyvalerate (HV) monomer formation. Sensitivity analysis of the model revealed that both the monomer composition and the molecular weight distribution of the copolymer chains are strongly affected by the ratio between the rates at which the two-monomer units are incorporated into the chains. This ratio depends on the relative HB and HV availability, which in turn is a function of the expression levels of genes encoding enzymes that catalyze monomer formation. Regulation of gene expression was accomplished through the aid of an artificial genetic network, the patterns of expression of which can be controlled by appropriately tuning the concentration of an extracellular inducer. Extensive simulations were used to study the effects of operating conditions and parameter uncertainties on the range of achievable copolymer compositions. Since the predicted conditions fell in the range of feasible bioprocessing manipulations, it is expected that such strategy could be successfully employed. Thus, the presented model constitutes a powerful tool for designing genetic networks that can drive the formation of PHBV copolymer structures with desirable characteristics.

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