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Publications of the Week

Development of an Autonomous and Bifunctional Quorum-Sensing Circuit for Metabolic Flux Control in Engineered Escherichia coli

By March 2, 2020March 9th, 2020No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in PNAS from Dr. Kristala Prather‘s laboratory (Pictured) at MIT.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Our lab works to engineer microbial cells to produce chemical compounds.  We are interested in developing new biosynthetic routes to target molecules, and in engineering new methods to regulate metabolism.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

In this paper, we looked to advance our work on the construction of “metabolite valves,” biomolecular devices that enable us to dynamically regulate metabolic flux.  We had previously shown that we could build metabolite valves that switch autonomously by leveraging quorum sensing systems.  In the current work, we integrated two different quorum sensing regulators that respond to the same signaling molecule in order to target two or more different metabolic nodes.  Targeting multiple nodes resulted in higher productivity than single nodes for two distinct metabolic pathways.

What are the next steps for this research?

We are continuing to expand our work with quorum-sensing based metabolite valves, both to use them to control new kinds of biological systems (see and to increase the complexity of regulatory modes.

If you’d like us to mention your funding sources, please list them.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation.


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