A Synthetic Multicellular System for Programmed Pattern Formation

Nature. 2005 Apr 28;434(7037):1130-4. doi: 10.1038/nature03461.

Abstract

Pattern formation is a hallmark of coordinated cell behaviour in both single and multicellular organisms. It typically involves cell-cell communication and intracellular signal processing. Here we show a synthetic multicellular system in which genetically engineered 'receiver' cells are programmed to form ring-like patterns of differentiation based on chemical gradients of an acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) signal that is synthesized by 'sender' cells. In receiver cells, 'band-detect' gene networks respond to user-defined ranges of AHL concentrations. By fusing different fluorescent proteins as outputs of network variants, an initially undifferentiated 'lawn' of receivers is engineered to form a bullseye pattern around a sender colony. Other patterns, such as ellipses and clovers, are achieved by placing senders in different configurations. Experimental and theoretical analyses reveal which kinetic parameters most significantly affect ring development over time. Construction and study of such synthetic multicellular systems can improve our quantitative understanding of naturally occurring developmental processes and may foster applications in tissue engineering, biomaterial fabrication and biosensing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / biosynthesis
  • 4-Butyrolactone / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Escherichia coli / cytology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Fluorescence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism

Substances

  • Bacterial Proteins
  • LuxI protein, Bacteria
  • Transcription Factors
  • homoserine lactone
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • 4-Butyrolactone