Chemical Engineering Seminar
Optogenetics uses light-responsive proteins to control biological processes. The unmatched spatiotemporal precision, high tunability, reversibility, and few off-target effects of light makes optogenetics a powerful strategy to study and engineer complex biological systems. For these reasons, optogenetics has already revolutionized disciplines such as neuroscience, developmental biology, and cell signaling, and is poised to do the same with cellular metabolism. I will show several classes of transcriptional optogenetic circuits that we have developed to control metabolic pathways for chemical production in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli. Additionally, I will present optogenetic strategies to achieve post-translational regulation of metabolism, including light-controlled synthetic metabolic organelles, and optical binders. One of the most exciting prospects of metabolic optogenetics is combining optogenetic regulators with genetically encoded biosensor to achieve closed-loop controls of metabolism. I will present the progress we have made towards this goal, including rapid optogenetic circuits as an important first step towards reducing actuator delays. I will discuss the challenges that lie ahead, and the opportunities to overcome them in order to realize the full potential of metabolic optogenetics.