One major challenge in synthetic biology is the deleterious impacts of cellular stress caused by expression of heterologous pathways, sensors, and circuits. Feedback control and dynamic regulation are broadly proposed strategies to mitigate this cellular stress by optimizing gene expression levels temporally and in response to biological cues. While a variety of approaches for feedback implementation exist, they are often complex and cannot be easily manipulated. Here, we report a strategy that uses RNA transcriptional regulators to integrate additional layers of control over the output of natural and engineered feedback responsive circuits. Called riboregulated switchable feedback promoters (rSFPs), these gene expression cassettes can be modularly activated using multiple mechanisms, from manual induction to autonomous quorum sensing, allowing control over the timing, magnitude, and autonomy of expression. We develop rSFPs in Escherichia coli to regulate multiple feedback networks and apply them to control the output of two metabolic pathways. We envision that rSFPs will become a valuable tool for flexible and dynamic control of gene expression in metabolic engineering, biological therapeutic production, and many other applications.
- gene regulation
- metabolic engineering
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)