Rössger K, Charpin-El-Hamri G, Fussenegger M
Diet-induced obesity is a lifestyle-associated medical condition that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Here we report the design of a closed-loop genetic circuit that constantly monitors blood fatty acid levels in the setting of diet-associated hyperlipidemia and coordinates reversible and adjustable expression of the clinically licensed appetite-suppressing peptide hormone pramlintide. Grafting of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α onto the phloretin-responsive repressor TtgR produces a synthetic intracellular lipid-sensing receptor (LSR) that reversibly induces chimeric TtgR-specific promoters in a fatty acid-adjustable manner. Mice with diet-induced obesity in which microencapsulated cells engineered for LSR-driven expression of pramlintide are implanted show significant reduction in food consumption, blood lipid levels and body weight when put on a high-fat diet. Therapeutic designer circuits that monitor levels of pathologic metabolites and link these with the tailored expression of protein pharmaceuticals may provide new opportunities for the treatment of metabolic disorders.