GENETIC ENGINEERING

SLIDE-ing to promote biosecurity

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Science  24 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6246, pp. 393-394
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6246.393-c

One hurdle facing the widespread use of genetically engineered organisms, such as probiotics or anticancer agents, is controlling their ability to reproduce. Lopez and Anderson developed one technique to do this, called “SLIDE” (synthetic auxotroph based on a ligand-dependent essential gene). Organisms that express SLIDE can only grow when supplied with a particular compound. Working with the bacterium Escherichia coli, the authors mutated genes essential for E. coli's viability, so that the hydrophobic cores of the encoded proteins could be filled by a nontoxic, bioavailable complementing compound. The technology was easy and cheap, and bacteria engineered to express multiple SLIDE alleles showed limited escape.

ACS Synth. Biol. 10.1021/acssynbio.5b00085 (2015).

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