Author(s): Kramer BP, Fussenegger M
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Abstract Bistable and hysteretic switches, enabling cells to adopt multiple internal expression states in response to a single external input signal, have a pivotal impact on biological systems, ranging from cell-fate decisions to cell-cycle control. We have designed a synthetic hysteretic mammalian transcription network. A positive feedback loop, consisting of a transgene and transactivator (TA) cotranscribed by TA's cognate promoter, is repressed by constitutive expression of a macrolide-dependent transcriptional silencer, whose activity is modulated by the macrolide antibiotic erythromycin. The antibiotic concentration, at which a quasi-discontinuous switch of transgene expression occurs, depends on the history of the synthetic transcription circuitry. If the network components are imbalanced, a graded rather than a quasi-discontinuous signal integration takes place. These findings are consistent with a mathematical model. Synthetic gene networks, which are able to emulate natural gene expression behavior, may foster progress in future gene therapy and tissue engineering initiatives.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Bioengineering & Biomedical Science