Promoter and Terminator Discovery and Engineeringby Deaner M, Alper HS
Control of gene expression is crucial to optimize metabolic pathways and synthetic gene networks. Promoters and terminators are stretches of DNA upstream and downstream (respectively) of genes that control both the rate at which the gene is transcribed and the rate at which mRNA is degraded. As a result, both of these elements control net protein expression from a synthetic construct. Thus, it is highly important to discover and engineer promoters and terminators with desired characteristics. This chapter highlights various approaches taken to catalogue these important synthetic elements. Specifically, early strategies have focused largely on semi-rational techniques such as saturation mutagenesis to diversify native promoters and terminators. Next, in an effort to reduce the length of the synthetic biology design cycle, efforts in the field have turned towards the rational design of synthetic promoters and terminators. In this vein, we cover recently developed methods such as hybrid engineering, high throughput characterization, and thermodynamic modeling which allow finer control in the rational design of novel promoters and terminators. Emphasis is placed on the methodologies used and this chapter showcases the utility of these methods across multiple host organisms.