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Development of SimCells as a novel chassis for functional biosensors

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ling Juan Wu



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 The Authors. This work serves as a proof-of-concept for bacterially derived SimCells (Simple Cells), which contain the cell machinery from bacteria and designed DNA (or potentially a simplified genome) to instruct the cell to carry out novel, specific tasks. SimCells represent a reprogrammable chassis without a native chromosome, which can host designed DNA to perform defined functions. In this paper, the use of Escherichia coli MC1000 ΔminD minicells as a non-reproducing chassis for SimCells was explored, as demonstrated by their ability to act as sensitive biosensors for small molecules. Highly purified minicells derived from E. coli strains containing gene circuits for biosensing were able to transduce the input signals from several small molecules (glucarate, acrylate and arabinose) into the production of green fluorescent protein (GFP). A mathematical model was developed to fit the experimental data for induction of gene expression in SimCells. The intracellular ATP level was shown to be important for SimCell function. A purification and storage protocol was developed to prepare SimCells which could retain their functions for an extended period of time. This study demonstrates that SimCells are able to perform as 'smart bioparticles' controlled by designed gene circuits.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rampley CPN, Davison PA, Qian P, Preston GM, Hunter CN, Thompson IP, Wu LJ, Huang WE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2017

Volume: 7

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 03/08/2017

Acceptance date: 28/06/2017

Date deposited: 21/08/2017

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-07391-6


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award (WT098374AIA)