We created two proof of concept devices, BBa_K2128100 and BBa_K2128104. Each device consists of a LEA protein driven by the strong Anderson promoter BBa_J23100 and strong RBS BBa_B0034. The LEA proteins chosen for expression were HDLEA1 (BBa_K2128000) and MAHS (BBa_K2128004) respectively. MAHS has previously been shown to confer desiccation resistance when expressed in human cells (Tanaka et al 2015). We chose to use a constitutive promoter to minimize the overall size of our construct, and because the proteins’ small size and intrinsically disordered nature was thought to be non-threatening to cellular processes.
While E. coli is already known to be capable of surviving desiccation, the HDLEA1 device was found by our team to enhance its survival rate (see data on the Results Page). It is our hope that this proof of concept will be improved upon and inspire the creation of similar devices to produce drought tolerant crops or more stable enzymes, vaccines, and other protein-based products.