Special Issue "Synthetic Genetic Elements, Devices, and Systems"

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Synthetic Biology and Systems Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Yusuke Kato
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Division of Biotechnology, Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), Oowashi 1-2, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634, Japan
Interests: biological containment; synthetic biology; development of novel genetic parts; unnatural amino acids; heterologous protein production
Prof. Dr. Chunbo Lou
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CAS Key Laboratory of Quantitative Engineering Biology, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1068 Xueyuan Avenue, University Town, Nanshan, Shenzhen, 518055, China
Interests: genetic circuit; modular design; promoter design; insulator

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the beginning of life on Earth, over the course of 3–4 billion years, nature has created vast numbers of genetic elements. These freshly created elements faced natural selection. Winners survived and losers disappeared. Nature selected only the genetically stable elements that contributed to the maintenance of life. From a contrary perspective, natural selection restricted the diversity of genetic elements. In the last 20 years, i.e., 2 × 10−8 billion years, synthetic biologists have tried to create novel genetic elements that “nature has not invented or cannot invent”. The objective of this research is to go beyond the restriction of natural selection and obtain novel genetic elements that are “useful for human use”. From the limited modification of characteristics of natural elements to originally designed elements, various synthetic genetic elements have been reported. “Genetic devices”, such as logic gates and memory elements, and higher order “genetic systems”, such as metabolite factories and biological containment systems, can be constructed using these synthetic genetic elements in combination with other genetic elements. Through this approach, the incorporation of synthetic genetic elements is dramatically expanding biological functions.

This Special Issue "Synthetic Genetic Elements, Devices, and Systems" will explore the current state-of-the-art in this growing field. We hereby invite articles (full articles, short communications, and reviews) covering a broad range of topics.

Topics for this Special Issue include, but are not limited to:

a) Synthetic genetic elements in prokaryotes and eukaryotes (promoters, transcription factors, RBS, degradation tags, transcriptional terminators, sensors, indicators, ribozymes and riboswitches, enzymes such as recombinases and proteases as regulatory elements, etc.).

b) Synthetic genetic circuits as devices and systems (either involving or not involving synthetic genetic elements, but with the purpose of eliciting designed behavior).

c) Methods to develop synthetic genetic elements, devices, and systems.

d) Applications for laboratory and industrial use.

e) History and future perspectives.

Dr. Yusuke Kato
Prof. Dr. Chunbo Lou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • synthetic biology
  • synthetic genetic elements/parts
  • biobricks
  • artificial gene synthesis
  • biocomputing
  • directed evolution
  • metabolic engineering/cell factory
  • optogenetics
  • genetic code expansion
  • xenobiology

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessReview
Aptamers, Riboswitches, and Ribozymes in S. cerevisiae Synthetic Biology
Life 2021, 11(3), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/life11030248 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 479
Among noncoding RNA sequences, riboswitches and ribozymes have attracted the attention of the synthetic biology community as circuit components for translation regulation. When fused to aptamer sequences, ribozymes and riboswitches are enabled to interact with chemicals. Therefore, protein synthesis can be controlled at [...] Read more.
Among noncoding RNA sequences, riboswitches and ribozymes have attracted the attention of the synthetic biology community as circuit components for translation regulation. When fused to aptamer sequences, ribozymes and riboswitches are enabled to interact with chemicals. Therefore, protein synthesis can be controlled at the mRNA level without the need for transcription factors. Potentially, the use of chemical-responsive ribozymes/riboswitches would drastically simplify the design of genetic circuits. In this review, we describe synthetic RNA structures that have been used so far in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We present their interaction mode with different chemicals (e.g., theophylline and antibiotics) or proteins (such as the RNase III) and their recent employment into clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats–CRISPR-associated protein 9 (CRISPR-Cas) systems. Particular attention is paid, throughout the whole paper, to their usage and performance into synthetic gene circuits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Synthetic Genetic Elements, Devices, and Systems)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Title: Protein-based systems for translational regulation of synthetic mRNAs in mammalian cells 
Author: Hideyuki Nakanishi (Tokyo Medical and Dental University)

2. Title: CRISPR-based genetic switches: mechanism and application
Author: Pei Du, Chunbo Lou, Xuejin Zhao, Weijia Wei, Xiangyu Ji and Qihui Wang; (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

3. Title: Evolutionary engineering of yeast transcriptional controllers
Author: Masahiro Tominaga, Akihiko Kondo and Jun Ishii; (Kobe University)

4. Title: Confirming
Author: Yusuke Kato; (National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO))
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