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Cell Circuits Remember Their History

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Genetic circuits in bacterial cells

Engineers at MIT have developed genetic circuits in bacterial cells that not only perform logic functions, but also remember the results.

Credit: Liang Zong and Yan Liang/MIT News

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed genetic circuits in bacterial cells that perform logic functions and remember the results, which are coded in the cell's DNA and passed on for several generations.

The researchers say the circuits could be used as long-term environmental sensors, efficient controls for biomanufacturing, or to program stem cells to differentiate into other cell types.

"We think complex computation will involve combining both logic and memory, and that’s why we built this particular framework to do so," says MIT professor Timothy Lu.

The circuits are based on memory circuits that Lu and his colleagues designed in 2009.

The new circuits' memory function is built into the logic gate and the inputs stably alter regions of DNA that control green fluorescent protein production. Using this design technique, the researchers can create all two-input logic gates and implement sequential-logic systems.

The researchers note the circuits also could be used to create a digital-to-analog converter, which takes digital inputs and converts them to analog output.

From MIT News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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