Synthetic Mechanotransduction Using Engineered SynNotch Receptors [article]

D. Christopher Sloas, John T. Ngo
2022 bioRxiv   pre-print
AbstractCells can sense and interpret mechanical stimuli from their environment, but the ability to engineer customized mechanosensing capabilities has remained a synthetic biology challenge. Here, we introduce a set of synthetic Notch (SynNotch)-derived proteins that can be used to convert extracellular tensile forces into specifiable gene expression changes. By elevating the tension levels needed to induce SynNotch activation, in combination with structure-guided mutagenesis, we designed
more » ... le mechanoreceptors with sensitivities in the physiologically relevant picoNewton (pN) range. Cells expressing these receptors could distinguish between varying levels of ligand-mediated tension and enact customizable transcriptional responses in turn. The utility of these tools was demonstrated by the design of a decision-making circuit, through which fibroblasts could be made to differentiate into myoblasts in response to mechanostimulation with tensile forces of distinct magnitudes. This work provides insight regarding how mechanically-induced structural alterations in proteins can be used to transduce physical forces into biochemical signals, and the system should facilitate further programming of force-related phenomena in biological systems.
doi:10.1101/2022.05.01.490205 fatcat:cwnoo2eecvganmkmcusizvb6pa