Ribosomal Logic

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Science  09 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5754, pp. 1587
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5754.1587b

The recently acquired appreciation of metabolic and regulatory pathways as an immensely complicated wiring diagram has been accompanied by attempts to reroute and redefine these circuits by adding and subtracting switches and connectors. One challenge, of course, is to maintain cell viability while tinkering with macromolecular components whose interactions may not yet be completely specified. Rackham and Chin have developed an orthogonal approach—building a parallel metabolism within a cell—by selecting for modified Shine-Dalgarno sequences that bind to correspondingly modified 16 Sribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) and that no longer bind to wild-type 16 SrRNAs. Amazingly, these orthogonal 16 SrRNAs still assemble into competent ribosomes, and placing the cognate Shine-Dalgarno sequence in front of a reporter gene results in faithful translation of an active enzyme independently of the endogenous protein synthesis machinery. Introducing several pairs of orthogonal messenger RNAs and rRNAs allows for the construction of AND and OR gates within otherwise unperturbed Escherichia coli. — GJC

J. Am. Chem. Soc.10.1021/ja055338d (2005); Nat. Chem. Biol. 1, 159 (2005).

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