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See detailNew tools for self-organised pattern formation
Bernhardt, K.; Carter, E. J.; Chand, N. S. et al

in IET Synthetic Biology (2007), 1(1.2), 29-31

Position-dependent gene expression is a critical aspect of the development and behaviour of multicellular organisms. It requires a complex series of interactions to occur between different cell types in ... [more ▼]

Position-dependent gene expression is a critical aspect of the development and behaviour of multicellular organisms. It requires a complex series of interactions to occur between different cell types in addition to intracellular signalling cascades. We used Escherichia coli to study the properties of an artificial signalling system at the interface between two expanding cell populations. We genetically engineered one population to produce a diffusible acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) signal, and another population to respond to it. Our experiments demonstrate how such a signal can be used to reproducibly generate simple visible patterns with high accuracy in swimming agar. The producing and responding cassettes of two such signalling systems can be linked to produce a symmetric interface for bidirectional communication that can be used to visualise molecular logic. Intracellular feedback between these two cassetteswould then create a framework for self-organised patterning of higher complexity. Adapting the experiments of Basu et al. (Basu et al., 2005) using cell motility, rather than a differential response to AHL concentrations as a way to define zones of response, we noted how the interaction of sender and receiver cell populations on a swimming plate could lead to complex pattern formation. Equipping highly motile strains such as E. coli MC1000 with AHL-mediated autoinducing systems based on Vibrio fischeri luxI/luxR and Pseudomonas aeruginosa lasI/lasR cassettes would allow the amplification of a response to an AHL signal and its propagation. We designed and synthesised codon-optimised auto-inducing luxI/R and lasI/R cassettes as optimal gene expression is crucial for the generation of robust patterns. We still have to complete and test the entire genetic circuitry, although by modelling the system we were able to demonstrate its feasibility. [less ▲]

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