Finely tuned genetic networks shaped by evolution have allowed organisms to express specific proteins precisely spatially and temporally. Yet there remains a hugely unexplored evolutionary space. Here, Islan et al look at the impact of introducing such networks on the fitness of E. coli. The robustness of the host to accept these novel network perturbation is great news to synthetic biologists. In fact, some of the engineered strains had better growth under specific conditions. Islan and his colleagues also discovered that E. coli inherently has a mechanism to dampen the effects of these introduced regulatory nodes. The plasticity of genomes may represent the need to remain “evolvable”. -HTW
Isalan, M et al. 2013.
Evolvability and hierarchy in rewired bacterial gene networks. Nature. 452, 840-845. doi:10.1038/nature06847