Biology Faculty Articles

Title

A Synthetic Biology Approach to Understanding Cellular Information Processing

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-21-2012

Publication Title

ACS Synthetic Biology

Keywords

Systems Biology, Synthetic Biology, Gene Circuit, Autonomous Regulation, Noise

ISSN

2161-5063

Volume

2012

Issue/No.

1

First Page

389

Last Page

402

Abstract

The survival of cells and organisms requires proper responses to environmental signals. These responses are governed by cellular networks, which serve to process diverse environmental cues. Biological networks often contain recurring network topologies called “motifs”. It has been recognized that the study of such motifs allows one to predict the response of a biological network and thus cellular behavior. However, studying a single motif in complete isolation of all other network motifs in a natural setting is difficult. Synthetic biology has emerged as a powerful approach to understanding the dynamic properties of network motifs. In addition to testing existing theoretical predictions, construction and analysis of synthetic gene circuits has led to the discovery of novel motif dynamics, such as how the combination of simple motifs can lead to autonomous dynamics or how noise in transcription and translation can affect the dynamics of a motif. Here, we review developments in synthetic biology as they pertain to increasing our understanding of cellular information processing. We highlight several types of dynamic behaviors that diverse motifs can generate, including the control of input/output responses, the generation of autonomous spatial and temporal dynamics, as well as the influence of noise in motif dynamics and cellular behavior.

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