Generic metric to quantify quorum sensing activation dynamics.
Quorum sensing (QS) enables bacteria to sense and respond to changes in their population density. It plays a critical role in controlling different biological functions, including bioluminescence and bacterial virulence. It has also been widely adapted to program robust dynamics in one or multiple cellular populations. While QS systems across bacteria all appear to function similarly-as density-dependent control systems-there is tremendous diversity among these systems in terms of signaling components and network architectures. This diversity hampers efforts to quantify the general control properties of QS. For a specific QS module, it remains unclear how to most effectively characterize its regulatory properties in a manner that allows quantitative predictions of the activation dynamics of the target gene. Using simple kinetic models, here we show that the dominant temporal dynamics of QS-controlled target activation can be captured by a generic metric, 'sensing potential', defined at a single time point. We validate these predictions using synthetic QS circuits in Escherichia coli. Our work provides a computational framework and experimental methodology to characterize diverse natural QS systems and provides a concise yet quantitative criterion for selecting or optimizing a QS system for synthetic biology applications.
Pai, A; Srimani, JK; Tanouchi, Y; You, L
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