About this Research Topic
In the context of synthetic biology, light and other electromagnetic radiations offer the invaluable possibility of driving and controlling parts, devices, systems and processes with high specificity and efficiency. Thanks to its peculiar features in terms of wavelength and energy, light allows spatio-temporal control of molecular and supramolecular systems that ultimately lead to (bio)chemical and (bio)logical behaviour – such as optogenetic control and energy fuelling.
In the recent years, a large number of studies have been devoted to the design and construction of molecular systems, either embedded inside cells or cell-free ones, that convincingly show the versatility and the power of such approaches. Examples involve both visible and near-infrared light in bacteria, yeast, mammalian and plant cells. The light control of gene expression has been used for triggering processes like signalling, recombination, initiation of translation, production of chemicals and peptides, apoptosis, intracellular transport, and cell differentiations. Additional cases refer to protein localization distribution, protein degradation, protein homo- and hetero-dimerization, alteration of metal-binding-protein, and also protein coacervation. Complex processes including biofilm formation, cell differentiation and morphogenesis have been considered.
Importantly, the transduction of solar energy into chemical energy supports the metabolism in photosynthetic bacteria and plant cells as well. Light drives vectorial mechanisms of electron transfer that fundamentally serve for the generation of chemical proton gradients and thus for fuelling ATP synthesis. Being inspired from living organisms, where photosynthetic or photo-activated processes are pivotal for the energetic autonomy of cells, these processes are under intense investigation in the field of bottom-up construction of synthetic cells. As an example, light-driven ATP production inside synthetic cells has been recently achieved by means of dedicated artificial or natural organelle endowed with proper molecular sets.
All these achievements excitingly impact current synthetic biology research because of the intrinsic versatility and power of light, which makes easier the drive and the control of a large number of processes. Consequently, we intend to focus this Research Topic on these light-centered approaches.
Through this Research Topic, we welcome researchers to contribute with original research articles, short communications, reviews, mini-reviews, methods/protocols, and perspectives focused on the use of light (and in general any electromagnetic radiation) for driving and/or controlling synthetic biological parts, devices, systems and processes, thus contributing to highlight such a strategy in synthetic biology.
Keywords: signalling, recombination, translation, production of (bio)chemicals and peptides, apoptosis, intracellular transport, cell differentiations, protein localization, protein degradation, protein homo- and hetero-dimerization, protein coacervation, biofilm formation, morphogenesis, photophosphorylation, synthetic cells, artificial cells, artificial organellae, Optogenetic control, Photoswitching, Light-inducible processes, Light-driven processes
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