Synthetic Biology Journal ›› 2023, Vol. 4 ›› Issue (2): 301-317.doi: 10.12211/2096-8280.2022-058

• Invited Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Potential application of synthetic biology in disease information recording and real-time monitoring

Mengdan MA1,2,3, Yuchen LIU1,2   

  1. 1.The first Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen University,Shenzhen Second People’s Hospital,Shenzhen Institute of Translational Medicine,Shenzhen 518035,Guangdong,China
    2.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology for Urogenital Tumors,Shenzhen 518035,Guangdong,China
    3.Shantou University Medical College,Shantou 515041,Guangdong,China
  • Received:2022-10-21 Revised:2022-12-29 Online:2023-04-30 Published:2023-04-27
  • Contact: Yuchen LIU


The ability to change information stored with genome in real time, efficiently, and dynamically is a major technological advance for in situ studies of cell biology and biology as well to control cell phenotype, and monitor disease progression. Since it was first used for mammalian gene editing, CRISPR-Cas technology has been widely used in research, medicine development and industrial production. In addition to indel mutations induced by Cas9 activity, recent advances in CRISPR-Cas have enabled DNA or RNA base to be edited more efficiently, and synthetic biologists are developing devices for information storage by harnessing the versatilities of CRISPR-Cas-based tools and gene circuits to engineer cells with modifications. DNA has a strong ability to store information that is stable for thousands of years. Key technology for monitoring cell signal change and behavior coordination is to use DNA as the recorder of molecular events in the body, which can transfer transient signals in cells into sustainable reactions, and store them permanently. With this key technology, researchers could get an in-depth understanding on transformation from genotype to phenotype in health and disease states, drug reactions with diseases in clinical trials for patients, and environmental changes associated with activities of human being. The goal of synthetic biology is to engineer cells with genetic circuits for new biological functions. CRISPR-Cas based tools are useful in developing genetic circuits because they can be easily repurposed by designing complementary gRNAs that interfere or act on any arbitrary nucleic acid sequence of interest. Although they are still in their infancy, CRISPR-Cas based tools are gaining popularity in encoding biological memory and tracing and forwarding genetic screening for each formed lineage. In this article, we summarize the progress and application of synthetic biology in DNA storage and real-time monitoring in cell, as well as the advantages of the CRISPR-Cas system processes and records of information in living cells. Finally, we highlight their prospects and challenges in research on diseases and treatments.

Key words: synthetic biology, DNA store, real-time monitoring and recording systems in cell, disease information records, CRISPR-Cas systems

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