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A Synthetic Biology Approach to Understanding Cellular Information Processing
ACS Synthetic Biology
  • Katherine A. Riccione, Duke University
  • Robert P. Smith, Duke University
  • Anna J. Lee, Duke University
  • Lingchong You, Duke University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Systems Biology,
  • Synthetic Biology,
  • Gene Circuit,
  • Autonomous Regulation,
  • Noise

The survival of cells and organisms requires proper responses to environmental signals. These responses are governed by cellular networks, which serve to process diverse environmental cues. Biological networks often contain recurring network topologies called “motifs”. It has been recognized that the study of such motifs allows one to predict the response of a biological network and thus cellular behavior. However, studying a single motif in complete isolation of all other network motifs in a natural setting is difficult. Synthetic biology has emerged as a powerful approach to understanding the dynamic properties of network motifs. In addition to testing existing theoretical predictions, construction and analysis of synthetic gene circuits has led to the discovery of novel motif dynamics, such as how the combination of simple motifs can lead to autonomous dynamics or how noise in transcription and translation can affect the dynamics of a motif. Here, we review developments in synthetic biology as they pertain to increasing our understanding of cellular information processing. We highlight several types of dynamic behaviors that diverse motifs can generate, including the control of input/output responses, the generation of autonomous spatial and temporal dynamics, as well as the influence of noise in motif dynamics and cellular behavior.

Citation Information
Katherine A. Riccione, Robert P. Smith, Anna J. Lee and Lingchong You. "A Synthetic Biology Approach to Understanding Cellular Information Processing" ACS Synthetic Biology Vol. 2012 Iss. 1 (2012) p. 389 - 402 ISSN: 2161-5063
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