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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2012 Aug;16(3-4):307-17. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2012.04.012. Epub 2012 May 19.

Microfluidic technologies for studying synthetic circuits.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Institue for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


Advances in synthetic biology have augmented the available toolkit of biomolecular modules, allowing engineering and manipulation of signaling in a variety of organisms, ranging in complexity from single bacteria and eukaryotic cells to multi-cellular systems. The richness of synthetic circuit outputs can be dramatically enhanced by sophisticated environmental control systems designed to precisely pattern spatial-temporally heterogeneous environmental stimuli controlling these circuits. Moreover, the performance of the synthetic modules and 'blocks' needed to assemble more complicated networks requires more complete characterization as a function of arbitrarily complex environmental inputs. Microfluidic technologies are poised to meet these needs through a variety of innovative designs capitalizing on the unique benefits of manipulating fluids on the micro-scales and nano-scales. This review discusses the utility of microfluidics for the study of synthetic circuits and highlights recent work in the area.

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