Bacterial transmembrane signalling systems and their engineering for biosensing
Every living cell possesses numerous transmembrane signalling systems that receive chemical and physical stimuli from the environment and transduce this information into an intracellular signal that triggers some form of cellular response. As unicellular organisms, bacteria require these systems for survival in rapidly changing environments. The receptors themselves act as ‘sensory organs’, while subsequent signalling circuits can be regarded as forming a ‘neural network’ that is involved in decision making, adaptation and ultimately in ensuring survival. Bacteria serve as useful biosensors in industry and clinical diagnostics, in addition to producing drugs for therapeutic purposes. Therefore, there is a great demand for engineered bacterial strains that contain transmembrane signalling systems with high molecular specificity, sensitivity and dose dependency. In this review, we address the complexity of transmembrane signalling systems and discuss principles to rewire receptors and their signalling outputs.