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Madeover microbe keeps time

  November 10/17, 2008
Redesign the genetic network in an E. coli bacteria to make fluorescent proteins blink at regular intervals and you you've made a microbe into a living clock.

The modifications balance positive and negative genetic feedback loops to produce an oscillator that toggles fluorescent proteins on and off as quickly as every 13 minutes.

The blink rate can change in response to environmental conditions like temperature and chemical levels, which opens the way for the bacteria to serve as environmental sensors.

Research paper:
A Fast, Robust and Tunable Synthetic Gene Oscillator
Nature, published online October 29, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
Systems Biodynamics Lab, UC San Diego
Lev S. Tsimring

Back to TRN November 10/17, 2008

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