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iGEM Competition 2019

Engineered organisms are being used to solve global problems today, from cleaning up our environment to diagnosing diseases. Yet, bottlenecks in engineered microbes lie in their limited functional lifespan and inherent stochasticity. Inspired by the phenomenon of hibernation in higher organisms, as well as the ability of our electrical devices to turn off when unused, we aim to overcome these limitations by engineering an ‘ON/OFF’ switch for the cells, giving the ability to control their productivity and extend their productive lifespan. Aided by modelling, we developed this switch using toxin-antitoxin modules which target global translational process and cellular metabolism to enable dormancy. Our technology allows the insertion of different input control modules to regulate these circuits in a plug-and-play manner. To ensure the safety and retainability of our circuits, a biocontainment module was designed to prevent the unwanted spread of our modules to other organisms. Finally, we successfully demonstrated regulated and lengthened productivity in the context of bioluminescence production and biosensing. Our technology thus pushes the boundaries of synthetic biology, bringing it closer to real world adoption.

Details of the design, theoretical validation, and experimental results can be found at the follow website.

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