Genetic flexibility of regulatory networks
Alexander Hunziker, Csaba Tuboly, Péter Horváth, Sandeep Krishna, and Szabolcs Semsey
PNAS July 20, 2010 vol. 107 no. 29 12998-13003 doi: 10.1073/pnas.0915003107
Gene regulatory networks are based on simple building blocks such as promoters, transcription factors (TFs) and their binding sites on DNA. But how diverse are the functions that can be obtained by different arrangements of promoters and TF binding sites? In this work we constructed synthetic regulatory regions using promoter elements and binding sites of two noninteracting TFs, each sensing a single environmental input signal. We show that simply by combining these three kinds of elements, we can obtain 11 of the 16 Boolean logic gates that integrate two environmental signals in vivo. Further, we demonstrate how combination of logic gates can result in new logic functions. Our results suggest that simple elements of transcription regulation form a highly flexible toolbox that can generate diverse functions under natural selection.