Cells as Living Calculators

Cells as Living Calculators

A synthetic biology paper from MIT is good starting point for our hardware section.

MIT engineers have transformed bacterial cells into living calculators that can compute logarithms, divide, and take square roots, using three or fewer genetic parts.

Inspired by how analog electronic circuits function, the researchers created synthetic computation circuits by combining existing genetic parts, or engineered genes, in novel ways.

The original paper can be accessed from Nature’s website for a small fee of $199:

A central goal of synthetic biology is to achieve multi-signal integration and processing in living cells for diagnostic, therapeutic and biotechnology applications1. Digital logic has been used to build small-scale circuits, but other frameworks may be needed for efficient computation in the resource- limited environments of cells2, 3. Here we demonstrate that synthetic analog gene circuits can be engineered to execute sophisticated computational functions in living cells using just three transcription factors. Such synthetic analog gene circuits exploit feedback to implement logarithmically linear sensing, addition, ratiometric and power-law computations. The circuits exhibit Webers law behaviour as in natural biological systems4, operate over a wide dynamic range of up to four orders of magnitude and can be designed to have tunable transfer functions. Our circuits can be composed to implement higher-order functions that are well described by both intricate biochemical models and simple mathematical functions. By exploiting analog building-block functions that are already naturally present in cells3, 5, this approach efficiently implements arithmetic operations and complex functions in the logarithmic domain. Such circuits may lead to new applications for synthetic biology and biotechnology that require complex computations with limited parts, need wide-dynamic-range biosensing or would benefit from the fine control of gene expression.

If you can wait for few days, we will explain it to you for a princely sum of $0.

Written by M. //