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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33279. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033279. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

Rational diversification of a promoter providing fine-tuned expression and orthogonal regulation for synthetic biology.

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  • 1Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.


Yeast is an ideal organism for the development and application of synthetic biology, yet there remain relatively few well-characterised biological parts suitable for precise engineering of this chassis. In order to address this current need, we present here a strategy that takes a single biological part, a promoter, and re-engineers it to produce a fine-graded output range promoter library and new regulated promoters desirable for orthogonal synthetic biology applications. A highly constitutive Saccharomyces cerevisiae promoter, PFY1p, was identified by bioinformatic approaches, characterised in vivo and diversified at its core sequence to create a 36-member promoter library. TetR regulation was introduced into PFY1p to create a synthetic inducible promoter (iPFY1p) that functions in an inverter device. Orthogonal and scalable regulation of synthetic promoters was then demonstrated for the first time using customisable Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) modified and designed to act as orthogonal repressors for specific PFY1-based promoters. The ability to diversify a promoter at its core sequences and then independently target Transcription Activator-Like Orthogonal Repressors (TALORs) to virtually any of these sequences shows great promise toward the design and construction of future synthetic gene networks that encode complex "multi-wire" logic functions.

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