Sensynova: A standardised modular and multicellular biosensor development platform

by Bradley Brown

16:00 (40 min) in USB 5.008

The rise of synthetic biology has aided the development of genetic biosensors by providing a wealth of standardised genetic parts. However, biosensor development is still difficult and resource intensive. The implementation of biosensor variants with different signal processing functionalities and outputs can be long and costly due to genetic cloning constraints. This reduces the easily accessible design space and hinders optimisation efforts. Additionally, aspects of current biosensor designs are rarely re-used due to a lack of context-free characterisation data, and genetic biosensors themselves can suffer from a lack of robustness and a relatively high false-positive rate.

Proposed here is a standard for biosensor development termed the Sensynova Biosensor Development Platform (SBDP), first described by the Newcastle 2017 iGEM team. The SBDP splits biosensor designs into three functional modules: a detector, a signal processor, and a reporter, allowing design aspects to be more easily shared. The three modules are expressed by different cells which are co-cultured to form a functional biosensor, allowing design variants to be easily implemented via combinatorial mixing of module variants. The multicellular aspect also increases robustness via population averaging before signal propagation, and introduces a new design space for optimisation: cell ratios. The SBDP is currently being experimentally validated by implementing and characterising an IPTG biosensor, and an agent-based model has been developed to explore the cell ratio design space for biosensor optimisation.