Physical, chemical, and metabolic state sensors expand the synthetic biology toolbox for Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803

Cheryl M. Immethun, Drew M. DeLorenzo, Caroline M. Focht, Dinesh Gupta, Charles B. Johnson, Tae Seok Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Many under-developed organisms possess important traits that can boost the effectiveness and sustainability of microbial biotechnology. Photoautotrophic cyanobacteria can utilize the energy captured from light to fix carbon dioxide for their metabolic needs while living in environments not suited for growing crops. Various value-added compounds have been produced by cyanobacteria in the laboratory; yet, the products’ titers and yields are often not industrially relevant and lag behind what have been accomplished in heterotrophic microbes. Genetic tools for biological process control are needed to take advantage of cyanobacteria's beneficial qualities, as tool development also lags behind what has been created in common heterotrophic hosts. To address this problem, we developed a suite of sensors that regulate transcription in the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 in response to metabolically relevant signals, including light and the cell's nitrogen status, and a family of sensors that respond to the inexpensive chemical, l-arabinose. Increasing the number of available tools enables more complex and precise control of gene expression. Expanding the synthetic biology toolbox for this cyanobacterium also improves our ability to utilize this important under-developed organism in biotechnology. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;114: 1561–1569.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1561-1569
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • cyanobacteria
  • genetic circuit
  • metabolic state
  • sensor
  • synthetic biology


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