Flexible cellular platforms for reconfigurable biocircuits
Existing methods for cloning and recombination of DNA enable construction of arbitrary sequences. However, the sequential nature of these techniques makes them time-consuming and expensive. Furthermore, while the transformation of an existing plasmid into a host strain can be reliable when a selection marker is used, there are many current limitations: the number of different plasmids that can be co-transformed is limited by the choice of markers and compatible origins of replication; plasmids are less stable than chromosomal DNA and are difficult to maintain indefinitely without mutation; and cistronic interactions cannot be designed since each new nucleotide sequence added is on an unconnected DNA molecule. To overcome these limitations, we are designing reconfigurable chromosomes consisting of both fixed and variable regions. While the fixed region is carefully optimized and tuned ahead of time, the variable region can be modified in the field, at the point-of-use, leading to rapid and on-demand realization of novel biocircuits with many different phenotypes.