The engineering of advanced multicellular behaviors, such as the programmed growth of biofilms or tissues, requires cells to communicate multiple aspects of physiological information. Unfortunately, few cell-cell communication systems have been developed for synthetic biology. Here, we engineer a genetically encoded channel selector device that enables a single communication system to transmit two separate intercellular conversations. Our design comprises multiplexer and demultiplexer sub-circuits constructed from a total of 12 CRISPRi-based transcriptional logic gates, an acyl homoserine lactone-based communication module, and three inducible promoters that enable small molecule control over the conversations. Experimentally parameterized mathematical models of the sub-components predict the steady state and dynamical performance of the full system. Multiplexed cell-cell communication has applications in synthetic development, metabolic engineering, and other areas requiring the coordination of multiple pathways among a community of cells.
Keywords: CRISPRi; cell-cell communication; genetic circuit design; multiplexers; synthetic biology.
© 2020 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.