Image_1_General Analyses of Gene Expression Dependencies on Genetic Burden.pdf (450.02 kB)

Image_1_General Analyses of Gene Expression Dependencies on Genetic Burden.pdf

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posted on 27.08.2020 by Marc González-Colell, Javier Macía

Over the last decade, the combining of newly developed molecular tools for DNA editing with engineering principles has allowed the creation of complex cellular devices, usually based on complex genetic circuits, for many different purposes. However, when the technological evolution of genetic circuitry is compared with previous technologies such as electronic circuitry, clear limitations regarding the technological scalability of genetic circuitry are observed due to the lack of predictability. To overcome this problem, it is necessary to create new theoretical frameworks for designing genetic circuits in a feasible and reliable manner, taking into account those limitations. Among a number of such limitations, the so-called genetic burden is one of the main constraints. Surprisingly, despite its relevance, little attention has been paid to genetic burden, and it is often not considered when designing genetic circuits. In this study, a new general mathematical formalism is presented, describing the effects of genetic burden on gene expression. The mathematical analysis shows that alterations in gene expression due to genetic burden can be qualitatively described independently of the specific genetic features of the system under consideration. The mathematical model was experimentally tested in different genetic circuits. The experimental evidence coincides with the expected behaviors described by the model in complex scenarios. For instance, observed modulations in the expression levels of constitutive genes in response to changes in the levels of external inducers of gene expression that do not directly modulate them, or the emergence of limitations in gene overexpression, can be understood in terms of genetic burden. The present mathematical formalism provides a useful general framework for gene circuit design that will help to advance synthetic biological systems.