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Guiding Bacteria with Small Molecules and RNA

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journal contribution
posted on 30.05.2007, 00:00 by Shana Topp, Justin P. Gallivan
Chemotactic bacteria navigate their chemical environment by coupling sophisticated information processing capabilities to molecular motors that propel the cells forward. The ability to reprogram bacteria to follow entirely new chemical signals would create powerful new opportunities in bioremediation, bionanotechnology, and synthetic biology. However, the complexities of bacterial signaling and limitations of current protein engineering methods combine to make reprogramming bacteria to follow novel molecules a difficult task. Here we show that by using a synthetic riboswitch rather than an engineered protein to recognize a ligand, E. coli can be guided toward and precisely localized to a completely new chemical signal.