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Mol Syst Biol. 2011 Feb 1;7:465. doi: 10.1038/msb.2010.119.

Synthetic in vitro transcriptional oscillators.

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  • 1Department of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.

Abstract

The construction of synthetic biochemical circuits from simple components illuminates how complex behaviors can arise in chemistry and builds a foundation for future biological technologies. A simplified analog of genetic regulatory networks, in vitro transcriptional circuits, provides a modular platform for the systematic construction of arbitrary circuits and requires only two essential enzymes, bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase and Escherichia coli ribonuclease H, to produce and degrade RNA signals. In this study, we design and experimentally demonstrate three transcriptional oscillators in vitro. First, a negative feedback oscillator comprising two switches, regulated by excitatory and inhibitory RNA signals, showed up to five complete cycles. To demonstrate modularity and to explore the design space further, a positive-feedback loop was added that modulates and extends the oscillatory regime. Finally, a three-switch ring oscillator was constructed and analyzed. Mathematical modeling guided the design process, identified experimental conditions likely to yield oscillations, and explained the system's robust response to interference by short degradation products. Synthetic transcriptional oscillators could prove valuable for systematic exploration of biochemical circuit design principles and for controlling nanoscale devices and orchestrating processes within artificial cells.

PMID:
21283141
PMCID:
PMC3063688
DOI:
10.1038/msb.2010.119
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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