Accurate and controllable regulatory elements such as promoters and ribosome binding sites (RBSs) are indispensable tools to quantitatively regulate gene expression for rational pathway engineering. Therefore, de novo designing regulatory elements is brought back to the forefront of synthetic biology research. Here we developed a quantitative design method for regulatory elements based on strength prediction using artificial neural network (ANN). One hundred mutated Trc promoter & RBS sequences, which were finely characterized with a strength distribution from 0 to 3.559 (relative to the strength of the original sequence which was defined as 1), were used for model training and test. A precise strength prediction model, NET90_19_576, was finally constructed with high regression correlation coefficients of 0.98 for both model training and test. Sixteen artificial elements were in silico designed using this model. All of them were proved to have good consistency between the measured strength and our desired strength. The functional reliability of the designed elements was validated in two different genetic contexts. The designed parts were successfully utilized to improve the expression of BmK1 peptide toxin and fine-tune deoxy-xylulose phosphate pathway in Escherichia coli. Our results demonstrate that the methodology based on ANN model can de novo and quantitatively design regulatory elements with desired strengths, which are of great importance for synthetic biology applications. © 2013 Meng et al.
Meng, H., Wang, J., Xiong, Z., Xu, F., Zhao, G., & Wang, Y. (2013). Quantitative Design of Regulatory Elements Based on High-Precision Strength Prediction Using Artificial Neural Network. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0060288