Synthetic Gene Circuits

Barbara Jusiak, Ramiz Daniel, Fahim Farzadfard, Lior Nissim, Oliver Purcell, Jacob Rubens, Timothy K. Lu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Abstract The past decade has witnessed tremendous advances in the design and implementation of synthetic gene circuits that program living cells to perform specific user-defined tasks. Synthetic circuits have been implemented in bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells, using a variety of transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. These devices, which lie at the intersection of biology and engineering, have provided insights into the function of naturally occurring gene regulatory networks. Furthermore, they hold the potential for transformative future applications in medicine, bioremediation, manufacturing, and more. In this review, some examples are presented of commonly used synthetic circuits, including oscillators, switches, memory devices, and circuits that perform digital and analog computation. The building blocks of synthetic gene circuits, as well as the challenges and considerations of circuit design, are also discussed. Finally, an overview is provided of the potential practical applications of this dynamic field of research.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationReviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine
PublisherWiley - VCH Verlag GmbH & CO. KGaA
Number of pages56
ISBN (Electronic)9783527600908
ISBN (Print) 9783527305421
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Major Reference Works


  • analog circuit
  • digital circuit
  • logic gate
  • orthogonality
  • oscillator
  • synthetic transcription factor (sTF)
  • toggle switch
  • transfer function
  • tunability


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