Tuning Extracellular Electron Transfer by Shewanella oneidensis Using Transcriptional Logic Gates




Dundas, Christopher M.
Keitz, Benjamin K.

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Extracellular electron transfer (EET) pathways, such as those in the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis, interface cellular metabolism with a variety of redox-driven applications. However, designer control over EET flux in S. oneidensis has proven challenging because a functional understanding of its EET pathway proteins and their effect on engineering parametrizations (e.g., response curves, dynamic range) is generally lacking. To address this, we systematically altered transcription and translation of single genes encoding parts of the primary EET pathway of S. oneidensis, CymA/MtrCAB, and examined how expression differences affected model-fitted parameters for Fe(III) reduction kinetics. Using a suite of plasmid-based inducible circuits maintained by appropriate S. oneidensis knockout strains, we pinpointed construct/strain pairings that expressed cymA, mtrA, and mtrC with maximal dynamic range of Fe(III) reduction rate. These optimized EET gene constructs were employed to create Buffer and NOT gate architectures that predictably turn on and turn off EET flux, respectively, in response to isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG). Furthermore, we found that response functions generated by these logic gates (i.e., EET activity vs inducer concentration) were comparable to those generated by conventional synthetic biology circuits, where fluorescent reporters are the output. Our results provide insight on programming EET activity with transcriptional logic gates and suggest that previously developed transcriptional circuitry can be adapted to predictably control EET flux.


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