Synthetic genetic circuits for self-actuated cellular nanomaterial fabrication devices
ACS Synthetic Biology
American Chemical Society
2152 - 2162
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Genetically controlled synthetic biosystems are being developed to create nanoscale materials. These biosystems are modeled on the natural ability of living cells to synthesize materials: many organisms have dedicated proteins that synthesize a wide range of hard tissues and solid materials, such as nanomagnets and biosilica. We designed an autonomous living material synthesizing system consisting of engineered cells with genetic circuits that synthesize nanomaterials. The circuits encode a nanomaterial precursor-sensing module (sensor) coupled with a materials synthesis module. The sensor detects the presence of cadmium, gold, or iron ions, and this detection triggers the synthesis of the related nanomaterial-nucleating extracellular matrix. We demonstrate that when engineered cells sense the availability of a precursor ion, they express the corresponding extracellular matrix to form the nanomaterials. This proof-of-concept study shows that endowing cells with synthetic genetic circuits enables nanomaterial synthesis and has the potential to be extended to the synthesis of a variety of nanomaterials and biomaterials using a green approach.