Dec 12, 2019

Cell-free genetic devices confer autonomic and adaptive properties to hydrogels

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Colette J. WhitfieldThomas P. Howard


Smart materials are able to alter one or more of their properties in response to defined stimuli. Our ability to design and create such materials, however, does not match the diversity and specificity of responses seen within the biological domain. We propose that relocation of molecular phenomena from living cells into hydrogels can be used to confer smart functionality to materials. We establish that cell-free protein synthesis can be conducted in agarose hydrogels, that gene expression occurs throughout the material and that co-expression of genes is possible. We demonstrate that gene expression can be controlled transcriptionally (using in gel gene interactions) and translationally in response to small molecule and nucleic acid triggers. We use this system to design and build a genetic device that can alter the structural property of its chassis material in response to exogenous stimuli. Importantly, we establish that a wide range of hydrogels are appropriate chassis for cell-free synthetic biology, meaning a designer may alter both the genetic and hydrogel components according to the requirements of a given application. We probe the relationship between the physical structure of the gel and in gel protein synthesis and rev...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Nucleic Acids
Protein Expression
Cell-Free System
Vitreous Body Structure
Protein Biosynthesis
Wound Healing

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