Gene expression control based on CRISPRi (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats interference) has emerged as a powerful tool for creating synthetic gene circuits, both in prokaryotes and in eukaryotes; yet, its lack of cooperativity has been pointed out as a potential obstacle for dynamic or multistable synthetic circuit construction. We used CRISPRi to build a synthetic oscillator (“CRISPRlator”), bistable network (toggle switch) and stripe pattern-forming incoherent feed-forward loop (IFFL). Our circuit designs, conceived to feature high predictability and orthogonality, as well as low metabolic burden and context-dependency, allowed us to achieve robust circuit behaviors in Escherichia coli populations. Mathematical modeling suggests that unspecific binding in CRISPRi is essential to establish multistability. Our work demonstrates the wide applicability of CRISPRi in synthetic circuits and paves the way for future efforts towards engineering more complex synthetic networks, boosted by the advantages of CRISPR technology.
Yolanda Schaerli is an Assistant Professor of Synthetic Biology at the Department of Fundamental Microbiology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Research in her laboratory uses a bottom-up synthetic biology approach to understand the mechanisms, properties, and evolution of gene regulatory networks, especially those involved in pattern formation.
For details of her research and recent publication, please visit HERE
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