Issue 8, 2018

Engineering of a genetic circuit with regulatable multistability


Synthetic biologists are dedicated to designing genetic systems from the bottom up to understand how living systems work. To date, a variety of genetic circuits exhibiting bistability have been designed, greatly expanding our understanding of the biological multistability in natural systems. However, the study of more complex forms of biological multistability using synthetic methods is still limited. In this report, we describe the engineering of a genetic circuit with regulatable multistability. A novel genetic toggle switch exhibiting inducible bistability and a self-activation circuit were individually designed and characterized, after which they were assembled to create a circuit that presents tristability. In bacteria, this synthetic circuit enables cells to differentiate spontaneously into three different states of gene expression. Moreover, the multistability of the circuit can be modulated by external inputs. This work provides a synthetic biology framework for the study of biological multistability and may help to understand natural multistability phenomena.

Graphical abstract: Engineering of a genetic circuit with regulatable multistability

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
12 Feb 2018
04 Jul 2018
First published
05 Jul 2018

Integr. Biol., 2018,10, 474-482