Light-responsive control of bacterial gene expression: precise triggering of the lac promoter activity using photocaged IPTG†
Light can be used to control numerous cellular processes including protein function and interaction as well as gene expression in a non-invasive fashion and with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. However, for chemical phototriggers tight, gradual, and homogeneous light response has never been attained in living cells. Here, we report on a light-responsive bacterial T7 RNA polymerase expression system based on a photocaged derivative of the inducer molecule isopropyl-β-D-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG). We have comparatively analyzed different Escherichia coli lac promoter-regulated expression systems in batch and microfluidic single-cell cultivation. The lacY-deficient E. coli strain Tuner(DE3) harboring additional plasmid-born copies of the lacI gene exhibited a sensitive and defined response to increasing IPTG concentrations. Photocaged IPTG served as a synthetic photo-switch to convert the E. coli system into an optogenetic expression module allowing for precise and gradual light-triggering of gene expression as demonstrated at the single cell level.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Synthetic Biology 2012-2014