Genetic Programming of Bacteria is achieved to Control Protein Secretion by Bilkent University UNAM team

Bilkent University UNAM researchers programmed bacteria to carry out logic operations. They designed synthetic genetic circuits based finite-state-machine. Synthetic Biosystems laboratory (SBL) led by Dr. Şeker achieved to design cells to secrete variety of proteins in a sequential manner at any time using the logic operations and state machine design by sending external signals to the engineered cells.

The study was highlighted on the cover of the May issue of ACS Synthetic Biology, a top tier journal of synthetic biology and biotechnology. In their work Dr. Şeker and his team succeeded to secrete proteins from the cell surface of Escherichia coli bacteria using a native autotranporter protein called Ag43 by controlling its release with logic gate operations and state machine concept. Also, engineered cells can secrete more than one type of protein in an ordered manner by stopping the release of initial proteins which are no more needed. In the meantime, the system initiates the secretion of the second protein, and at last the bacteria are back to their stand-by state. In a following study Dr. Şeker and his team showed how to program cells by using synthetic genetic switches to control secretion of biofilm proteins along with enzymes to increase the lifetime and durability of the enzymes, and this work was highlighted on the ChemBioChem July 2019 issue’s cover.

Dr. Şeker and his team demonstrated a proof-of-concept study about how to program genetically engineered probiotic bacteria. They can sense the environmental signals, which are generally clues for a disease condition and by following a bio-computation process, cells start to release biomolecules (which can be an antibody that can target a receptor on a tumor cell or another protein based signaling molecules that turn on secretion of insulin into the blood stream to decrease blood glucose level). This innovative approach is called “living therapeutics” and it is expected to be a game changer in medicine.


  1. A Self-Actuated Cellular Protein Delivery Machine
  1. Cellular Biocatalysts Using Synthetic Genetic Circuits for Prolonged and Durable Enzymatic Activity
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