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UW Engineers Borrow From Electronics to Build Largest Circuits to Date in Living Eukaryotic Cells


Artists impression of connected CRISPR-dCas9 NOR gates.

University of Washington researchers have demonstrated a new method for digital information processing in living cells.

Credit: Justin Vrana/University of Washington

University of Washington (UW) researchers have demonstrated a new method for digital information processing in living cells, similar to the logic gates used in electric circuits.

The researchers built a set of synthetic genes that function in cells similar to NOR gates, which each take two inputs and only pass on a positive signal if both inputs are negative. In addition, NOR gates are functionally complete, meaning they can be assembled in different arrangements to make any kind of information-processing circuit.

The researchers achieved this breakthrough using DNA instead of silicon, and inside yeast cells instead of with electronics. The team says these new circuits are the largest ever published to date in eurkaryotic cells, which contain a nucleus and other structures that enable complex behaviors.

At this size, the circuits can begin to execute more useful behaviors by processing information from different environmental sensors and performing calculations to decide on the correct response.

From UW Today
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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