Precise transcriptional modulation is a key requirement for developing synthetic probiotics with predictably tunable functionalities. In this study, an expandable and tunable transactivation system was constructed and validated in probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. The use of nuclease-null Cas9 and scaffold RNA (scRNA) directed regulation enabled transactivation under the control of a synthetic promoter in S. boulardii. A synthetic promoter consisting of the scRNA target sequence and the core GAL7 promoter region restricted interference from the native galactose regulon. The system was readily expanded by introducing new target sequences to the promoter and scRNA. Complementarity between the promoter and scRNA, and binding specificity between scRNA and transcriptional activator, served as two layers of orthogonality of the transactivation. In addition, activator expression under the control of an inducible promoter enabled control of the transactivation via chemical inducer. The described system has the potential to enable engineering of probiotic yeast to more precisely perform therapeutic functions.
Keywords: Cas9; Saccharomyces boulardii; scaffold RNA; transactivation.