Control of mammalian cell-based devices with genetic programming

Kate E. Dray, Hailey I. Edelstein, Kathleen S. Dreyer, Joshua N. Leonard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Synthetic biology increasingly enables the construction of sophisticated functions in mammalian cells. A particularly promising frontier combines concepts drawn from industrial process control engineering — which is used to confer and balance properties such as stability and efficiency — with understanding as to how living systems have evolved to perform similar tasks with biological components. In this review, we first survey the state-of-the-art for both technologies and strategies available for genetic programming in mammalian cells. We then discuss recent progress in implementing programming objectives inspired by engineered and natural control mechanisms. Finally, we consider the transformative role of model-guided design in the present and future construction of customized mammalian cell functions for applications in biotechnology, medicine, and fundamental research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100372
JournalCurrent Opinion in Systems Biology
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Control engineering
  • Genetic circuit
  • Genetic program
  • Mammalian synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Modeling and Simulation


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