Revision as of 11:56, 20 September 2012 by Spring zhq (Talk | contribs)


As a significant component in signal transduction, cell-cell communication has fueled numerous biological researches; among them is the discovery of quorum sensing signals, e.g. AHL and AIP. During the last decade, many insightful and valuable synthetic biology projects have been constructed to perform complex functions based on cell-cell communication, e.g. pattern formation and synthetic ecosystem.

However, it is difficult for these systems to perform long-distance signaling, such as synchronizing cells in a large population due to the short-range diffusion of chemicals. But an even more serious issue is the basis of synthetic systems on quorum sensing signals, which are hard to reset because the chemicals are easily saturated in many cases. Additionally, it is difficult to achieve inter-kingdom communication through quorum sensing signals due to the fact that the transcription machinery of prokaryotes and eukaryotes are dramatically different.

As demonstrated above (data on Characterization), the ultrasensitive Luminesensor is able to respond to very dim light and maintains a wide dynamic range. That encouraged Peking iGEM to explore the possibility of cell-cell communication through light. The delivery of light signals is not limited by diffusion or by variation of organisms across species or even kingdoms. By carefully selecting the lux operon (bacterial luciferase) as the light sender module (details on Design), Peking iGEM successfully demonstrated that Luminesensor is able to sense the blue light produced by bacterial luciferase. This is the very first time that light-communication between cells has been achieved without direct physical contact. As a proof of concept, a video was recorded to reveal the timing-course change of both the sender and the receiver cells. Quantitative data was also obtained to evaluate the efficiency of light-communication (see Results). To build a complete light-communication system, a Light-On system was also proposed to achieve both positive and negative control by light. As the application of synthetic biology is coming of age, Peking iGEM has probed into the bright future of light-communication (see Future Perspective).