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Understanding A Cell's Split Personality Aids Synthetic Circuits

As scientists work toward making genetically altered bacteria create living "circuits" to produce a myriad of useful proteins and chemicals, they have logically assumed that the single-celled organisms would always respond to an external command in the same way.

Alas, some bacteria apparently have an individualistic streak that makes them zig when the others zag.

A new set of experiments by Duke University bioengineers has uncovered the existence of "bistability," in which an individual cell has the potential to live in either of two states, depending on which state it was in when stimulated.

Taking into account the effects of this phenomenon should greatly enhance the future efficiency of synthetic circuits, said biomedical engineer Lingchong You of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy.
 
 

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