Programming gene expression with combinatorial promoters
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Promoters control the expression of genes in response to one or more transcription factors (TFs). The architecture of a promoter is the arrangement and type of binding sites within it. To understand natural genetic circuits and to design promoters for synthetic biology, it is essential to understand the relationship between promoter function and architecture. We constructed a combinatorial library of random promoter architectures. We characterized 288 promoters in Escherichia coli, each containing up to three inputs from four different TFs. The library design allowed for multiple -10 and -35 boxes, and we observed varied promoter strength over five decades. To further analyze the functional repertoire, we defined a representation of promoter function in terms of regulatory range, logic type, and symmetry. Using these results, we identified heuristic rules for programming gene expression with combinatorial promoters.
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