Two- and three-input TALE-based AND logic computation in embryonic stem cells

Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Nov;41(21):9967-75. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt758. Epub 2013 Aug 27.


Biological computing circuits can enhance our ability to control cellular functions and have potential applications in tissue engineering and medical treatments. Transcriptional activator-like effectors (TALEs) represent attractive components of synthetic gene regulatory circuits, as they can be designed de novo to target a given DNA sequence. We here demonstrate that TALEs can perform Boolean logic computation in mammalian cells. Using a split-intein protein-splicing strategy, we show that a functional TALE can be reconstituted from two inactive parts, thus generating two-input AND logic computation. We further demonstrate three-piece intein splicing in mammalian cells and use it to perform three-input AND computation. Using methods for random as well as targeted insertion of these relatively large genetic circuits, we show that TALE-based logic circuits are functional when integrated into the genome of mouse embryonic stem cells. Comparing construct variants in the same genomic context, we modulated the strength of the TALE-responsive promoter to improve the output of these circuits. Our work establishes split TALEs as a tool for building logic computation with the potential of controlling expression of endogenous genes or transgenes in response to a combination of cellular signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Humans
  • Inteins
  • Mice
  • Protein Splicing
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • Trans-Activators