PerspectiveSynthetic Biology

Dynamic genome engineering in living cells

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Science  14 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6211, pp. 813-814
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1246

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Living cells continuously measure, process, and store cellular and environmental information in response to specific signals. Bioengineers are now starting to use these systems to build customized genetic regulatory circuits that can control targeted biological processes. They are also using them to develop new regulatory modes and novel biochemical pathways (1). In combination with new genome-editing tools (2), this technology holds great promise for the development of biomedical and biotechnological applications of specially engineered “designer” cells. On page 825, Farzadfard and Lu (3) move us closer to this goal by constructing a cellular memory device that is based on a conditional gene-editing platform. In this way they have gained access to the enormous storage capacity of genomic DNA to record analog information.