(353g) Construction of Programmable Cells to Prevent Infectious Diseases
The versatility of microorganisms promises to solve many global challenges. In the past decade, synthetic biology has shown its potential for real-world applications, such as microbial synthesis of malaria drug precursors and creation of genetic circuits to control bacterial processes. However, to fully exploit such versatile microbes, complex gene regulatory systems need to be better understood and engineered. Our long-term goal is to determine the design principles needed to develop programmable cells that are able to integrate multiple environmental signals and to implement synthetic control over cellular processes. To this end, we have mined genetic parts (e.g., regulatory proteins and RNAs as well as inducible promoters) from a variety of organisms to construct (i) environmental sensors (e.g., oxygen, temperature, pH, and light sensors), which enable the engineered bacteria to distinguish between various environmental conditions, and (ii) multi-input logic programs with genetic memory devices, which direct the cells to produce outputs only when user-defined conditions are satisfied. We will present progress towards development of such engineered microbes, which can be programmed to kill parasite eggs.