Rapid evolution of regulatory element libraries for tunable transcriptional and translational control of gene expression

Erqing Jin, Lynn Wong, Yun Jiao, Jake Engel, Benjamin Holdridge, Peng Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Engineering cell factories for producing biofuels and pharmaceuticals has spurred great interests to develop rapid and efficient synthetic biology tools customized for modular pathway engineering. Along the way, combinatorial gene expression control through modification of regulatory element offered tremendous opportunity for fine-tuning gene expression and generating digital-like genetic circuits. In this report, we present an efficient evolutionary approach to build a range of regulatory control elements. The reported method allows for rapid construction of promoter, 5′UTR, terminator and trans-activating RNA libraries. Synthetic overlapping oligos with high portion of degenerate nucleotides flanking the regulatory element could be efficiently assembled to a vector expressing fluorescence reporter. This approach combines high mutation rate of the synthetic DNA with the high assembly efficiency of Gibson Mix. Our constructed library demonstrates broad range of transcriptional or translational gene expression dynamics. Specifically, both the promoter library and 5′UTR library exhibits gene expression dynamics spanning across three order of magnitude. The terminator library and trans-activating RNA library displays relatively narrowed gene expression pattern. The reported study provides a versatile toolbox for rapidly constructing a large family of prokaryotic regulatory elements. These libraries also facilitate the implementation of combinatorial pathway engineering principles and the engineering of more efficient microbial cell factory for various biomanufacturing applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalSynthetic and Systems Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 5′UTR
  • Library
  • Promoter
  • Riboregulatory
  • Synthetic biology
  • Terminator
  • Trans-activating RNA


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