Navigation Links
UCSF team develops 'logic gates' to program bacteria as computers
Date:12/8/2010

A team of UCSF researchers has engineered E. coli with the key molecular circuitry that will enable genetic engineers to program cells to communicate and perform computations.

The work builds into cells the same logic gates found in electronic computers and creates a method to create circuits by "rewiring" communications between cells. This system can be harnessed to turn cells into miniature computers, according to findings that will be reported in an upcoming issue of Nature and appear today in the advanced online edition at www.nature.com.

That, in turn, will enable cells to be programmed with more intricate functions for a variety of purposes, including agriculture and the production of pharmaceuticals, materials and industrial chemicals, according to Christopher A. Voigt, PhD, a synthetic biologist and associate professor in the UCSF School of Pharmacy's Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry who is senior author of the paper.

The most common electronic computers are digital, he explained; that is, they apply logic operations to streams of 1's and 0's to produce more complex functions, ultimately producing the software with which most people are familiar. These logic operations are the basis for cellular computation, as well.

"We think of electronic currents as doing computation, but any substrate can act like a computer, including gears, pipes of water, and cells," Voigt said. "Here, we've taken a colony of bacteria that are receiving two chemical signals from their neighbors, and have created the same logic gates that form the basis of silicon computing."

Applying this to biology will enable researchers to move beyond trying to understand how the myriad parts of cells work at the molecular level, to actually use those cells to perform targeted functions, according to Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy.

"This field will be transformative in how we harness biology for biomedical advances," said Koda-Kimble, who championed Voigt's recruitment to lead this field at UCSF in 2003. "It's an amazing and exciting relationship to watch cellular systems and synthetic biology unfold before our eyes."

The Nature paper describes how the Voigt team built simple logic gates out of genes and inserted them into separate E. coli strains. The gate controls the release and sensing of a chemical signal, which allows the gates to be connected among bacteria much the way electrical gates would be on a circuit board.

"The purpose of programming cells is not to have them overtake electronic computers," explained Voigt, whom Scientist magazine named a "scientist to watch" in 2007 and whose work is included among the Scientist's Top 10 Innovations of 2009. "Rather, it is to be able to access all of the things that biology can do in a reliable, programmable way."

The research already has formed the basis of an industry partnership with Life Technologies, in Carlsbad, Cal., in which the genetic circuits and design algorithms developed at UCSF will be integrated into a professional software package as a tool for genetic engineers, much as computer-aided design is used in architecture and the development of advanced computer chips.

The automation of these complex operations and design choices will advance basic and applied research in synthetic biology. In the future, Voigt said the goal is to be able to program cells using a formal language that is similar to the programming languages currently used to write computer code.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kristen Bole
kristen.bole@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Iowa State, Ames Lab researcher develops new way to study single biological molecules
2. MU scientist develops salmonella test that makes food safer, reduce recalls
3. IVCC develops new public health insecticides
4. NC State develops more precise genetic off switches
5. Yale develops new animal model for hemophilia A
6. Research develops simple recipe for fungus-free horseradish
7. CCNY-led team develops non-toxic oil recovery agent
8. Harvards Wyss Institute develops technology to produce sugar from photosynthetic bacteria
9. ISU researcher develops green, bio-based process for producing fuel additive
10. Military develops multi-purpose green decontaminants for terrorist attack sites
11. CSIRO develops highest-yielding salt-tolerant wheat
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UCSF team develops 'logic gates' to program bacteria as computers
(Date:1/31/2017)... 2017  Spero Therapeutics, LLC, a biopharmaceutical company ... of bacterial infections, today announced it has acquired ... Pro Bono Bio Ltd (PBB) to bolster its ... forms of Gram-negative bacteria.   The assets acquired have ... PBB group company. "The acquisition of ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... DENVER , Jan. 26, 2017  Acuity ... Trends for Biometrics and Digital Identity".  Acuity characterizes ... digital identity when increased adoption reflects a new ... "Biometrics and digital identity are ... says Maxine Most , Principal of Acuity ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 24, 2017  It sounds ... baby,s sock that monitors vital signs and alerts ... an infant,s oxygen saturation level drops. But pediatric ... alarm to parents, with no evidence of medical ... devices are marketed aggressively to parents of healthy ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/16/2017)... ... February 16, 2017 , ... Avomeen & MichBio will be hosting a BioMixer ... at Avomeen Analytical Services (4840 Venture Dr., Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108). BioMixers are ... opportunity to interact with peers, make new connections and talk bio biz. , Cost:, ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... Feb. 16, 2017 Research and ... Biology: Global Markets" report to their offering. ... ... genes, biobrick parts, delivery plasmids, chassis organisms, synthetic cells, ... assembly, genome editing, bioinformatics and specialty media) and enabled ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... , Feb. 16, 2017  Dermata Therapeutics, LLC, ... to treat a variety of dermatological diseases, today ... 1a financing and entered into a $5 million ... intends to use the capital for general corporate ... advancements in the treatment of serious diseases treated ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... YORK , Feb. 16, 2017 Paradigm ... Series B financing, adding an additional $3M from New ... Mesa Verde Venture Partners and other strategic partners at ... towards further accelerating commercial adoption of their flagship Paradigm ... and expanding the Paradigm cancer registry. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: