Identifiability Analysis of the GAL1 Genetic Circuit as a Step Toward Enabling the Use of Model Based Control Engineering Design Tools in Synthetic Biology

Aim: We aim towards creation of a pipeline for automated closed-loop identification of dynamic models of synthetically engineered genetic circuits in micro-organisms. As a step towards this aim, we here study modeling of a synthetically engineered Gal1 promoter circuit in S. cerevisiae that can be turned on by growing the yeast in Galactose and off by growing it in Glucose.

Social/scientific motivation: Design of synthetic genetic circuits provides a chance to cure diseases, modify existing biological organisms, and produce valuable substances, such as drugs and cosmetic ingredients.

Scientific background: Currently the design of synthetic circuits is largely based on trial and error, which is error-prone, slow, and costly. Therefore, there has recently being a strive to create mathematical models of genetic circuits. Mathematical models are the key to using established design methods within control theory to modify or control genetic circuits.

Chi-Ching’s motivation: Synthetic biology is a study which treats the interaction of biological elements, e.g. genes, as an engineering system. If we can understand the interaction of biological elements, then we can apply engineering principles and control theory to the design and build new biological systems. We can, e.g., control the gene expression rate to produce more drug in a shorter time or we can reduce the speed of abnormal cell growth to prevent cancer. I believe this will be the key to the future.

Members: Rain Wu, Chi Ching Hsu, Torbjörn Nordling