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Creators/Authors contains: "Parks, Sydney E"

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  1. Abstract Ligand-inducible genetic systems are the mainstay of synthetic biology, allowing gene expression to be controlled by the presence of a small molecule. However, ‘leaky’ gene expression in the absence of inducer remains a persistent problem. We developed a leak dampener tool that drastically reduces the leak of inducible genetic systems while retaining signal in Escherichia coli. Our system relies on a coherent feedforward loop featuring a suppressor tRNA that enables conditional readthrough of silent non-sense mutations in a regulated gene, and this approach can be applied to any ligand-inducible transcription factor. We demonstrate proof-of-principle of our system with the lactate biosensor LldR and the arabinose biosensor AraC, which displayed a 70-fold and 630-fold change in output after induction of a fluorescence reporter, respectively, without any background subtraction. Application of the tool to an arabinose-inducible mutagenesis plasmid led to a 540-fold change in its output after induction, with leak decreasing to the level of background mutagenesis. This study provides a modular tool for reducing leak and improving the fold-induction within genetic circuits, demonstrated here using two types of biosensors relevant to cancer detection and genetic engineering.