Behavioral Hardware

Part of the Biological and Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering book series (BIOMEDICAL)


Suppose you discovered a computerized factory turning out small cars, and you wanted to know how those cars were assembled and how they functioned. One way to identify essential components would be to remove those components one at a time and then characterize the resulting defects. For example, if you removed the drive shaft, the engine would run but the drive wheels would not turn, so the car would be paralyzed. If you knew the computer program, you could do this at will by removing the instructions for fabrication or assembly of drive shafts. If you did not know those instructions, or indeed even what a car might be, you could still learn a great deal by changing the program at random (e.g., by making mutants). This is how things proceeded in the early days of bacterial chemotaxis. One mutagenized cells, isolated mutants with interesting defects (e.g., cells with flagella that failed to spin), and then mapped the gene. Given the gene, one could identify the gene product. Now things are much easier. The genetic program is known in detail, and one can modify it in any way that one desires. For example, one can amplify a specific gene by using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), change its sequence at will, and put it back into the chromosome by homologous recombination.


Methylation Level Response Regulator Receptor Occupancy Histidine Kinase Maltose Binding Protein 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

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