Modulation of Gene Expression via Directed Electrical Signaling: Electrically Sensitive Promoters
University of Texas at Austin
The ability to interface biology with electronic components is extremely limited, in large measure because cells do not readily recognize electronic inputs in a way that we understand. The key challenge towards achieving facile 'communication' between biologics and electronics is finding ways in which electrical inputs from electronics can be converted into chemical signals that can be 'understood' by cells. To identify ways that we can program cells to respond to electrical stimuli, we conducted a gene expression analysis study to identify target genes that are upregulated in our condition of interest (growth under electrical stimuli). Having identified these target genes, we preceeded to take the regulatory elements of those genes (the promoters) and allow them to drive expression of reporter genes (proteins that can easily be measured for their abundance). By giving scientists and engineers alike, a new method for gene expression via electrical stimuli, you give them another tool to tackle the bioengineering problems that they face daily in their efforts to express proteins and control cells. This work will give us a digitally controlled expression system that can be used in bulk fermentation applications, among numerous other applications.