Genetic engineering has achieved numerous victories both in basic and applied biology. However, there still remains room for progress in the area, especially in developing new tools. For instance, although the importance of cell-cell interaction has been emphasized, there are limited number of tools in bioengineering to utilize it. Controlling interaction among microorganisms will help understanding living things and constructing completely novel multicellular systems.
In our project, we tried to design cell-cell interaction-based spatiotemporal control of biological reactions. We constructed an E. coli cell-based system which functions as an analog clock with a clock hand moving clockwise. To achieve this, we adopted mimicry of the action potential propagation along nerve cell axons. We anticipate that this will be achieved by combining positive and negative feedback loops and quorum sensing-based cell-cell communication.