Computer-aided design of modular protein devices: Boolean AND gene activation

H. Salis, Y. N. Kaznessis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Many potentially useful synthetic gene networks require the expression of an engineered gene if and only if two different DNA-binding proteins exist in sufficient concentration. While some natural and engineered systems activate gene expression according to a logical AND-like behavior, they often utilize allosteric or cooperative protein-protein interactions, rendering their components unsuitable for a toolbox of modular parts for use in multiple applications. Here, we develop a quantitative model to demonstrate that a small system of interacting fusion proteins, called a protein device, can activate an engineered gene according to the Boolean AND behavior while using only modular protein domains and DNA sites. The fusion proteins are created from transactivating, DNA-binding, non-DNA binding, and protein-protein interaction domains along with the corresponding peptide ligands. Using a combined kinetic and thermodynamic model, we identify the characteristics of the molecular components and their rates of constitutive production that maximize the fidelity of AND behavior. These AND protein devices facilitate the creation of complex genetic programs and may be used to create gene therapies, biosensors and other biomedical and biotechnological applications that turn on gene expression only when multiple DNA-binding proteins are simultaneously present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number007
Pages (from-to)295-310
Number of pages16
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


Dive into the research topics of 'Computer-aided design of modular protein devices: Boolean AND gene activation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this