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Trends Biotechnol. 2012 Jun;30(6):342-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2012.03.006. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Distributed computation: the new wave of synthetic biology devices.

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ICREA-Complex Systems Lab, Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.


Synthetic biology (SB) offers a unique opportunity for designing complex molecular circuits able to perform predefined functions. But the goal of achieving a flexible toolbox of reusable molecular components has been shown to be limited due to circuit unpredictability, incompatible parts or random fluctuations. Many of these problems arise from the challenges posed by engineering the molecular circuitry: multiple wires are usually difficult to implement reliably within one cell and the resulting systems cannot be reused in other modules. These problems are solved by means of a nonstandard approach to single cell devices, using cell consortia and allowing the output signal to be distributed among different cell types, which can be combined in multiple, reusable and scalable ways.

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