Author(s): Zhen Xie, Liliana Wroblewska, Laura Prochazka, Ron Weiss, Yaakov Benenson
Engineered biological systems that integrate multi-input sensing, sophisticated information processing, and precisely regulated actuation in living cells could be useful in a variety of applications. For example, anticancer therapies could be engineered to detect and respond to complex cellular conditions in individual cells with high specificity. Here, we show a scalable transcriptional/posttranscriptional synthetic regulatory circuit—a cell-type “classifier”—that senses expression levels of a customizable set of endogenous microRNAs and triggers a cellular response only if the expression levels match a predetermined profile of interest. We demonstrate that a HeLa cancer cell classifier selectively identifies HeLa cells and triggers apoptosis without affecting non-HeLa cell types. This approach also provides a general platform for programmed responses to other complex cell states.