Genetic Regulation: The Operating System
Life is chemistry: from complex multicellular organisms to the single cell bacterium, all living beings are driven by chemical processes and are constantly sensing and reacting to chemical stimuli. This biochemical recognition occurs through genetic circuits, powered by transcription of DNA to RNA and translation of specific proteins. These make up the cellular supercomputer’s “operating instructions,” allowing it to respond to chemical signals through genetic regulation.
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Allosteric Transcription Factors: The “On” Switch
For the supercomputer to begin processing, it needs to receive an “on” signal. Allosteric Transcription Factors (aTFs) provide this signal. aTFs are bacterial regulatory proteins that recognize chemical stimuli and regulate cellular response. Different families of aTFs are sensitive to different chemical compounds; an engineered biosensor uses bioinformatics and experimentation to determine and program the highest-performing aTF. This way, when the target chemical is detected, it triggers the “On” aTF signal, producing a measurable quantity of RNA as a signal.
Read more in Publications, 2022 Nature Chemical Biology
Flexible Visual Reporters: Customizable Reporting “Software”
Computing power means nothing without a useful software user interface. Recognizing that no one-program-fits-all, Stemloop builds its biosensors with different visual reporter interfaces. The core cell-free, aTF-based technology remains the same, with slight modifications to allow for different scales and quantification levels of testing. These formats include high-throughput fluorescent well-plate or in vivo, embedded biosensors, as well as more discrete, equipment-free test formats such as colorimetric or lateral-flow style tests.
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