Towards light based dynamic control of synthetic biological networks

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Marios Tomazou, Dr Guy-Bart Stan, Dr Karen Polizzi, Prof Mauricio Barahona

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Utilising biological light sensors to gain control over transcriptional regulation was realised through years of research on the structural nature of the light-harvesting protein domains, encountered mainly in photosynthetic organisms. The Cph8 chimera introduced by Levskaya et al. (2005), was one of the first examples on how light can provide a non-invasive, cheap and reversible induction scheme. These advantages, absent in chemical inducers, hold promising potentials for developing a framework for gaining temporal and even spatial control over cellular metabolism. Our work is focused on the experimental characterisation and mathematical modelling of the dynamics of light responsive systems and on optimising them for a robust and predictable transcriptional photo-regulation. We worked on coupling such light input modules with existing synthetic genetic devices like the toggle switch and the dual feedback oscillator in order to gain control over the frequency and amplitude of the oscillation through light.