• Authors: Guinn, M., Bleris, L.
  • Year: 2014
  • Journal: ACS Synth Biol 3 627-33
  • Applications: in vitro / DNA / jetPRIME
  • Cell type: HEK-293
    Description: Human embryonic kidney Fibroblast
    Known as: HEK293, 293


Decoders are combinational circuits that convert information from n inputs to a maximum of 2(n) outputs. This operation is of major importance in computing systems yet it is vastly underexplored in synthetic biology. Here, we present a synthetic gene network architecture that operates as a biological decoder in human cells, converting 2 inputs to 4 outputs. As a proof-of-principle, we use small molecules to emulate the two inputs and fluorescent reporters as the corresponding four outputs. The experiments are performed using transient transfections in human kidney embryonic cells and the characterization by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. We show a clear separation between the ON and OFF mean fluorescent intensity states. Additionally, we adopt the integrated mean fluorescence intensity for the characterization of the circuit and show that this metric is more robust to transfection conditions when compared to the mean fluorescent intensity. To conclude, we present the first implementation of a genetic decoder. This combinational system can be valuable toward engineering higher-order circuits as well as accommodate a multiplexed interface with endogenous cellular functions.