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Keywords:

  • Bioengineering;
  • Gene expression;
  • Metabolic engineering;
  • Synthetic biology

Abstract

Synthetic control of gene expression is critical for metabolic engineering efforts. Specifically, precise control of key pathway enzymes (heterologous or native) can help maximize product formation. The fundamental level of transcriptional control takes place at promoter elements that drive gene expression. Endogenous promoters are limited in that they do not fully sample the complete continuum of transcriptional control, and do not maximize the transcription levels achievable within an organism. To address this issue, several attempts at promoter engineering have shown great promise both in expanding the cell-wide transcriptional capacity of an organism and in enabling tunable levels of gene expression. Thus, this review highlights the recent advances and approaches for altering gene expression control at the promoter level. Furthermore, we propose that recent advances in the understanding of transcription factors and their DNA-binding sites will enable rational and predictive control of gene expression.