283766 Peptide-Based Communication Platform for Interspecies Communication

Monday, October 29, 2012: 9:24 AM
Washington (Westin )
Nicholas Marchand and Cynthia H. Collins, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Traditionally, industrial processes requiring bacteria have used a single organism. However, future processes are likely to take advantage of the many advantages available that come from utilize microbial consortia. In order to control interactions and complex dynamics required for these cells to work together, it is important for engineers and synthetic biologists to create robust communication pathways between biotechnologically relevant species.  Escherichia coli and Bacillus megaterium are two such bacterial species that have proven themselves useful in industry in the past. Here we present a synthetic communication pathway between the two using a heterologous quorum sensing (QS) mechanism taken from Staphylococcus aureus. The QS system of S. aureus is composed of four genes making up the accessory gene regulator (agr) locus. The agrB and agrD genes, along with a Type I Signal Peptidase, produce and secrete the signaling molecule termed Autoinducing Peptide (AIP). The agrC and agrA genes encode a two component signaling cascade that leads to up-regulation of all four QS genes. We have engineered an E. coli strain that is able to produce and secrete mature AIP into the cell supernatant. Furthermore, introducing this supernatant to our engineered B. megaterium cultures effectively induces target gene expression. We anticipate that our communication system, when combined with successful co-culture systems, will be a key technology for the implementation of synthetic consortia for bioprocessing applications.

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