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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2006 Feb;17(1):11-6. Epub 2006 Jan 11.

Making bio-sense of toxicity: new developments in whole-cell biosensors.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Sølvgade 83H, 1307 Copenhagen K, Denmark.


Bacterial whole-cell biosensors are very useful for toxicity measurements of various samples. Semi-specific biosensors, containing fusions of stress-regulated promoters and reporter genes, have several advantages over the traditional, general biosensors that are based on constitutively expressed reporter genes. Furthermore, semi-specific biosensors are constantly being refined to lower their sensitivity and, in combination, are able to detect a wide range of toxic agents. However, the requirement for a positive response of these biosensors to toxicants can result in false-negative responses. The application of in situ inoculation and single-cell detection, combined with the introduction of new reporter genes and refined detection equipment, could lead to the extensive use of semi-specific, stress-responsive biosensors for toxicity estimations in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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