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IEEE Trans Nanobioscience. 2009 Sep;8(3):281-9. doi: 10.1109/TNB.2009.2028687.

Design and characterization of a three-terminal transcriptional device through polymerase per second.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


In this paper, we provide an in silico input-output characterization of a three-terminal transcriptional device employing polymerase per second (PoPS) as input and output. The device is assembled from well-characterized parts of the bacteriophage lambda switch transcriptional circuit. We draw the analogy between voltage and protein concentration and between current and PoPS to demonstrate that the characteristics of the three-terminal transcriptional device are qualitatively similar to those of a bipolar junction transistor (BJT). In particular, as it occurs in a BJT, the device can be tuned to operate either as a linear amplifier or as a switch. When the device operates as a linear amplifier, gains of twofolds can be obtained, which are considerably smaller than those obtained in a BJT (in which 100-fold amplification gains can be reached). This fact suggests that the parts extracted from natural transcriptional systems may be naturally designed mostly to process and store information as opposed to amplify signals.

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