Programming gene expression in multicellular organisms for physiology modulation through engineered bacteria.
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A central goal of synthetic biology is to predictably and efficiently reprogram living systems to perform computations and carry out specific biological tasks. Although there have been many advances in the bio-computational design of living systems, these advances have mainly been applied to microorganisms or cell lines; programming animal physiology remains challenging for synthetic biology because of the system complexity. Here, we present a bacteria-animal symbiont system in which engineered bacteria recognize external signals and modulate animal gene expression, twitching phenotype, and fat metabolism through RNA interference toward gfp, sbp-1, and unc-22 gene in C. elegans. By using genetic circuits in bacteria to control these RNA expressions, we are able to program the physiology of the model animal Caenorhabditis elegans with logic gates. We anticipate that engineered bacteria can be used more extensively to program animal physiology for agricultural, therapeutic, and basic science applications.
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