Programmable In Vivo Selection of Arbitrary DNA Sequences

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Tuval Ben Yehezkel, Tamir Biezuner (equal contribution with first author), Gregory Linshiz, Yair Mazor, Ehud Shapiro

Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

The extraordinary fidelity, sensory and regulatory capacity of natural intracellular machinery is generally confined to their endogenous environment. Nevertheless, synthetic bio-molecular components have been engineered to interface with the cellular transcription, splicing and translation machinery in vivo by embedding functional features such as promoters, introns and ribosome binding sites, respectively, into their design. Tapping and directing the power of intracellular molecular processing towards synthetic bio-molecular inputs is potentially a powerful approach, albeit limited by our ability to streamline the interface of synthetic components with the intracellular machinery in vivo. Here we show how a library of synthetic DNA devices, each bearing an input DNA sequence and a logical selection module, can be designed to direct its own probing and processing by interfacing with the bacterial DNA mismatch repair (MMR) system in vivo and selecting for the most abundant variant, regardless of its function. The device provides proof of concept for programmable, function-independent DNA selection in vivo and provides a unique example of a logical-functional interface of an engineered synthetic component with a complex endogenous cellular system. Further research into the design, construction and operation of synthetic devices in vivo may lead to other functional devices that interface with other complex cellular processes for both research and applied purposes.