Addressable and adaptable intercellular communication via DNA messaging


Engineered consortia are a major research focus for synthetic biologists because they can implement sophisticated behaviors inaccessible to single-strain systems. However, this functional capacity is constrained by their constituent strains’ ability to engage in complex communication. DNA messaging, by enabling information-rich channel-decoupled communication, is a promising candidate architecture for implementing complex communication. But its major advantage, its messages’ dynamic mutability, is still unexplored. We develop a framework for addressable and adaptable DNA messaging that leverages all three of these advantages and implement it in a plasmid conjugation-based communication channel. Our system can bias the transfer of messages to targeted receiver strains by 100-to 1000-fold, and their recipient lists can be dynamically updated in situ to control the flow of information through the population. This work lays the foundation for future developments that further utilize the unique advantages of DNA messaging to engineer previously-inaccessible levels of complexity into biological systems.

ICB Affiliated Authors

John P. Marken and Richard M. Murray
Peer-Reviewed Article
Nature Communications