Phenolic aromatic compounds are a major source of environmental pollution. Currently there are no in situ methods for specifically and selectively detecting these pollutants. Here, we exploit the nature's biosensory machinery by employing Acinetobacter calcoaceticus NCIB8250 protein, MopR, as a model system to develop biosensors for selective detection of a spectrum of these pollutants. The X-ray structure of the sensor domain of MopR was used as a scaffold for logic-based tunable biosensor design. By employing a combination of in silico structure guided approaches, mutagenesis and isothermal calorimetric studies, we were able to generate biosensor templates, that can selectively and specifically sense harmful compounds like chlorophenols, cresols, catechol, and xylenols. Furthermore, the ability of native protein to selectively sense phenol as the primary ligand was also enhanced. Overall, this methodology can be extended as a suitable framework for development of a series of exclusive biosensors for accurate and selective detection of aromatic pollutants from real time environmental samples.
- selective biosensor