Cell-free extract based optimization of biomolecular circuits with droplet microfluidics

Lab Chip. 2017 Sep 12;17(18):3037-3042. doi: 10.1039/c7lc00552k.


Engineering an efficient biomolecular circuit often requires time-consuming iterations of optimization. Cell-free protein expression systems allow rapid testing of biocircuits in vitro, speeding the design-build-test cycle of synthetic biology. In this paper, we combine this with droplet microfluidics to densely scan a transcription-translation biocircuit space. Our system assays millions of parameter combinations per hour, providing a detailed map of function. The ability to comprehensively map biocircuit parameter spaces allows accurate modeling to predict circuit function and identify optimal circuits and conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell-Free System* / chemistry
  • Cell-Free System* / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods*
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Synthetic Biology / methods*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Proteins