Test & Measurement
Light Tube Array for Genetic Circuit Design
Rice University bioengineers have developed an ultra high-precision method for creating and measuring gene expression signals in bacteria by combining light-sensing proteins from photosynthetic algae with a simple array of red and green LED lights and standard fluorescent reporter genes. By varying the timing and intensity of the lights, they were able to control exactly when and how much different genes were expressed. "Our work was inspired by the methods that are used to study electronic circuits. Electrical engineers have tools like oscilloscopes and function generators that allow them to measure how voltage signals flow through electrical circuits. Those measurements are essential for making multiple circuits work together properly, so that more complex devices can be built. We have used our light-based tools as a biological function generator and oscilloscope in order to similarly analyze genetic circuits," says Rice bioengineer Jeffrey Tabor.