Systematic Design of a Quorum Sensing-Based Biosensor for the Detection of Metal Ions in Escherichia coli
With the recent industrial expansion, heavy metals and other pollutants have increasingly contaminated our living surroundings. The non-degradability of heavy metals may lead to accumulation in food chains, and the resulting toxicity could cause damage in organisms. Hence, detection techniques have gradually received attention. In this study, a quorum sensing (QS)-based amplifier is introduced to improve the detection performance of metal ion biosensing. The design utilizes diffusible signal molecules, which freely pass through the cell membrane into the environment to communicate with others. Bacteria cooperate via the cell-cell communication process, thereby displaying synchronous behavior, even if only a minority of the cells detect the metal ion. In order to facilitate the design, the ability of the engineered biosensor to detect metal ions is described in a steady-state model. The design can be constructed according to user-oriented specifications by selecting adequate components from corresponding libraries, with the help of a genetic algorithm (GA)-based design method. The experimental results validate enhanced efficiency and detection performance of the quorum sensing-based biosensor of metal ions.
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