Overlapping biocontainment strategies for genetically modified E. coli

Gallagher RR, Patel JR, et al. (2015) Multilayered genetic safeguards limit growth of microorganisms to defined environments. Nucleic Acids Res, 43(3): 1945–1954.

Citation summary: gBlocks Gene Fragments are used to create codon optimized components of a biocontainment system for genetically modified E. coli.

Feb 26, 2015

Revised/updated Nov 17, 2016

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are widely used for biotechnological production or transformation of valuable compounds. However, with increasing interest in open clinical and environmental applications, there is a heightened need for the generation of safeguards that would prevent these organisms’ ability to survive outside of controlled and confined settings.

In this featured article, Dr Farren Isaacs (Yale University) and his team have developed a system of overlapping safeguards to ensure that genetically engineered E. coli can still perform the desired manufacturing functions but cannot survive outside of an artificial environment that includes specific small molecules.

Among the approaches used, the lab engineered codon-optimized bacterial toxin genes, made using gBlocks® Gene Fragments, that would be expressed when a small molecule, such as tetracycline, is absent from the growth media.