Synthetic Promoters and Transcription Factors for Heterologous Protein Expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Transcriptional activator-like effector (TALE)- and CRISPR/Cas9-based designable recognition domains represent a technological breakthrough not only for genome editing but also for building designed genetic circuits. Both platforms are able to target rarely occurring DNA segments, even within complex genomes. TALE and dCas9 domains, genetically fused to transcriptional regulatory domains, can be used for the construction of engineered logic circuits. Here we benchmarked the performance of the two platforms, targeting the same DNA sequences, to compare their advantages for the construction of designed circuits in mammalian cells. Optimal targeting strands for repression and activation of dCas9-based designed transcription factors were identified; both platforms exhibited good orthogonality and were used to construct functionally complete NOR gates. Although the CRISPR/dCas9 system is clearly easier to construct, TALE-based activators were significantly stronger, and the TALE-based platform performed better, especially for the construction of layered circuits.