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Comparative Dose–Response Analysis of Inducible Promoters in Cyanobacteria

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posted on 17.03.2020 by Anna Behle, Pia Saake, Anna T. Germann, Dennis Dienst, Ilka M. Axmann
Design and implementation of synthetic biological circuits highly depends on well-characterized, robust promoters with predictable input–output responses. While great progress has been made with heterotrophic model organisms such as Escherichia coli, the available variety of tunable promoter parts for phototrophic cyanobacteria is still limited. Commonly used synthetic and semisynthetic promoters show weak dynamic ranges or no regulation at all in cyanobacterial models. Well-controlled alternatives such as native metal-responsive promoters, however, pose the problems of inducer toxicity and lacking orthogonality. Here, we present the comparative assessment of dose–response functions of four different inducible promoter systems in the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Using the novel bimodular reporter plasmid pSHDY, dose–response dynamics of the re-established vanillate-inducible promoter PvanCC was compared to the previously described rhamnose-inducible Prha, the anhydrotetracycline-inducible PL03, and the Co2+-inducible PcoaT. We estimate individual advantages and disadvantages regarding dynamic range and strength of each promoter, also in comparison with well-established constitutive systems. We observed a delicate balance between transcription factor toxicity and sufficient expression to obtain a dose-dependent response to the inducer. In summary, we expand the current understanding and employability of inducible promoters in cyanobacteria, facilitating the scalability and robustness of synthetic regulatory network designs and of complex metabolic pathway engineering strategies.