Pharma Focus Asia

Biosensor-based engineering of biosynthetic pathways

Authors : Jameson K Rogers, Noah D Taylor, George M Church


Biosynthetic pathways provide an enzymatic route from inexpensive renewable resources to valuable metabolic products such as pharmaceuticals and plastics. Designing these pathways is challenging due to the complexities of biology. Advances in the design and construction of genetic variants has enabled billions of cells, each possessing a slightly different metabolic design, to be rapidly generated. However, our ability to measure the quality of these designs lags by several orders of magnitude. Recent research has enabled cells to report their own success in chemical production through the use of genetically encoded biosensors. A new engineering discipline is emerging around the creation and application of biosensors. Biosensors, implemented in selections and screens to identify productive cells, are paving the way for a new era of biotechnological progress.

Citation: Jameson K Rogers, Noah D Taylor, George M Church Biosensor-based engineering of biosynthetic pathways doi:10.1016/j.copbio.2016.03.005

Available online 18 March 2016

Copyright: © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF GRFP to J.K.R.) and the US Department of Energy (DEFG02-02ER63445 to G.M.C.).

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