Artificial proteins function as logic gates transform cells into computers

Artificial proteins logic gates
A conceptual illustration of living cells containing protein AND gates that have been designed to detect multiple signals to become bioluminescent. Credit: MolGraphics/UW Medicine Institute for Protein Design

Cells with new proteins functions

Synthetic biology is defined as the study of how cells are engineered to give them new functions with artificial proteins that allow them to implement advanced programs; Such as the detection and response to pathological conditions, through the editing of the cell genome, which causes a permanent modification that is transmitted to subsequent generations of cells.

The primary goal of synthetic biology is to transfer this transformation into genetic solutions that do not last long and will serve their purpose and then disappear. Like our use of removable adhesive tape, instead of strong glue, the goal is to develop therapeutic circuits that we can manage to carry out a specific function, and then disappear as soon as their purpose is met. And the excellent aspect is that it is capable of directing and attacking its precise targets, instead of randomly affecting all cells. Therapeutic circuits can detect a specific error at the cellular level and then fix it.

Rewriting the genetic material

Genetic editing uses a set of genetic modification techniques that rewrite the genetic material of an organism, which is much more accurate than previous techniques of genetic engineering, and aims to treat many diseases; Including AIDS, viral hepatitis, cancer and other incurable diseases. This has brought about fundamental shifts in biomedical research in recent years, and researchers hope to use it to modify human genes to eliminate diseases and get rid of their causes, or to give plants greater durability.

The tools used to operate computers are currently experiencing new applications that help control life at the molecular level, and new developments may shape the future of medicine and synthetic biology.

In this context, A research team from Washington University School of Medicine has created artificial proteins that act as molecular logic gates and are used just like electronic circuits to program behavior in more advanced systems. A traditional logic gate is a circuit with a single outlet, that performs a logical operation on the input and produces the required output. The team published the study in the American journal Science.

Artificial proteins functionality

The team felt that the new artificial proteins would regulate gene expression within human T cells. Gene expression is a process by which genetic information is used to manufacture functional genetic products, improving the durability and safety of cell-based therapy in the future.

And the British website, website.com, quoted David Baker, the study’s lead author and professor of biochemistry at the College of Medicine and director of the Institute for Protein Design, as saying that “biomedical engineers previously made logic gates of DNA (RNA) and proteins Pre-modified naturals, however, they have not reached the ideal, and our logic gates built with artificial proteins designed from scratch are more varied and will be used in a wide range of biomedical applications. ”

Biological and electronic logic gates

Biological and electronic logic gates sense and respond to signals, according to a predetermined function. One of the simplest of these gates is the so-called pairing & gateway; It is a logical gateway used to connect two or more entries through what is known as logical sympathy, and it does not give outputs unless the two entries are associated; An example of this is in a computer keyboard, as the computer prints an uppercase letter e if we press a key that I saw with the letter e button. The attraction of logic gates lies in introducing this control privacy in bioengineering systems.

Inputs such as &, by cell, lead to unique production. Such as activating or suppressing a specific gene if the right portals operate within living cells; “The Apollo 11 pilot computer was built entirely of negative selection gates or (light) gates and we succeeded in making negative protein-based choice gates,” said Zibo Chen, lead author of the study and a graduate student at the university. It is not as complex as the complex guidance computers of the US Department of Aeronautics and Space (NASA), but it is a basic step towards programming complex biological circuits from scratch.

Cell mechanism

In the year 2018; “One of the biggest challenges in biomedicine is quality, how do we make a treatment that affects a particular type of cell, and determine our response mechanism to modify the cell in a specific way,” said researcher Michael Elowitz, professor of biology, biological engineering, and researcher at the Harvard Medical Institute. This type of treatment is not feasible with drug use, but effective treatment can be reached using programmable biological circuits to enable you to perceive, process, and respond to information in different ways.”

In 2018, a team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology developed a set of biological tools for artificial proteins that can be synthesized together in different ways. Like Lego blocks, to program new behaviors into living cells. The researchers designed and built to demonstrate their idea of ​​a circuit added to human cells growing in a laboratory dish, whose task is to discover the potential for cancer-causing gene activity in these cells, and then the circuit stimulates the affected cells, for self-destruction. The researchers implemented their project in the Michael Elowitz lab. Professor of Biology, Biological Engineering and Researcher at the American Harvard Medical Institute. And they published their research in the American journal Science.

Convert cells into computers

In 2017, researchers from Washington University developed another way to convert cells into computers that digitally process information rather than follow traditional methods, by building cell copies of logic gates typically found in electrical circuits.

In 2016, Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a programming language that allows future machine makers to program living cells and provide them with DNA-encoded circuits that give them a wide range of new functions in the organism.