Synthetic transcriptional synergy

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Science  10 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6440, pp. 531-532
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax4556

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The architecture of transcription factors (TFs) is surprisingly modular (1). Each factor broadly consists of a DNA binding domain and an activation domain that recruits the cell's transcription apparatus. These domains can be combined in a plug-and-play manner to build synthetic TFs (synTFs). Such synTFs have been successfully used to program activation or repression of a gene of interest (24), a functionality that has proven essential for many studies in molecular biology and applications in biotechnology. On page 593 of this issue, Bashor et al. (5) present a successful approach for engineering cooperative synTF assemblies. These assemblies bring engineered control of gene expression closer to achieving the richness of behaviors exhibited by naturally cooperative TFs.