Editors' ChoiceSynthetic Biology

Cellular Devices

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Science Signaling  30 Nov 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 150, pp. ec367
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3150ec367

Cellular control mechanisms might offer opportunities to build genetic devices capable of sensing aberrant cells and activate a regulatory signal that directs the cell to alter its biological state. Culler et al. (see the Perspective by Liu and Arkin) present a proof of principle for a synthetic gene network in which cells were engineered to make an RNA-based device that detected molecules associated with disease states such as inflammation and cancer. Detection then triggered expression of a gene that made the cells more sensitive to a drug causing cell death.

S. J. Culler, K. G. Hoff, C. D. Smolke, Reprogramming cellular behavior with RNA controllers responsive to endogenous proteins. Science 330, 1251–1255 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]

C. C. Liu, A. P. Arkin, The case for RNA. Science 330, 1185–1186 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]