Applications and tuning strategies for transcription factor-based metabolite biosensors

Gloria J Zhou, Washington University in St. Louis
Fuzhong Zhang, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis


Transcription factor (TF)-based biosensors are widely used for the detection of metabolites and the regulation of cellular pathways in response to metabolites. Several challenges hinder the direct application of TF-based sensors to new hosts or metabolic pathways, which often requires extensive tuning to achieve the optimal performance. These tuning strategies can involve transcriptional or translational control depending on the parameter of interest. In this review, we highlight recent strategies for engineering TF-based biosensors to obtain the desired performance and discuss additional design considerations that may influence a biosensor's performance. We also examine applications of these sensors and suggest important areas for further work to continue the advancement of small-molecule biosensors.