A systematic design method for robust synthetic biology to satisfy design specifications

  • Chen B
  • Wu C
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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Synthetic biology is foreseen to have important applications in biotechnology and medicine, and is expected to contribute significantly to a better understanding of the functioning of complex biological systems. However, the development of synthetic gene networks is still difficult and most newly created gene networks are non-functioning due to intrinsic parameter uncertainties, external disturbances and functional variations of intra- and extra-cellular environments. The design method for a robust synthetic gene network that works properly in a host cell under these intrinsic parameter uncertainties and external disturbances is the most important topic in synthetic biology. RESULTS: In this study, we propose a stochastic model that includes parameter fluctuations and external disturbances to mimic the dynamic behaviors of a synthetic gene network in the host cell. Then, based on this stochastic model, four design specifications are introduced to guarantee that a synthetic gene network can achieve its desired steady state behavior in spite of parameter fluctuations, external disturbances and functional variations in the host cell. We propose a systematic method to select a set of appropriate design parameters for a synthetic gene network that will satisfy these design specifications so that the intrinsic parameter fluctuations can be tolerated, the external disturbances can be efficiently filtered, and most importantly, the desired steady states can be achieved. Thus the synthetic gene network can work properly in a host cell under intrinsic parameter uncertainties, external disturbances and functional variations. Finally, a design procedure for the robust synthetic gene network is developed and a design example is given in silico to confirm the performance of the proposed method. CONCLUSION: Based on four design specifications, a systematic design procedure is developed for designers to engineer a robust synthetic biology network that can achieve its desired steady state behavior under parameter fluctuations, external disturbances and functional variations in the host cell. Therefore, the proposed systematic design method has good potential for the robust synthetic gene network design.

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Models, Biological
  • Systems Biology/*methods
  • Transcription, Genetic

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Authors

  • B S Chen

  • C H Wu

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