Synthetic biology is advancing into a new phase where real-world applications are emphasized. There is hence an urgent need for mathematical modeling that can quantitatively describe the behaviors of genetic devices in natural, fluctuating environments. We utilize an integrative circuit-host modeling framework to examine the dynamics of a genetic switch and its host cell in varying environments. For both steady-state and transient cases, we find increasing nutrient reduces the bistability region of the phase space and eventually drives the switch from bistability to monostability. In response, cellular growth and proteome partitioning experience the same transition. Antibiotic perturbations cause the similar circuit and host responses as nutrient variations. However, one difference is the trend of growth rate, which augments with nutrient but declines with antibiotic levels. The framework provides a mechanistic scheme to account for both the dynamic and static characteristics of the circuit-host system upon environmental perturbations, underscoring the intimacy of gene circuits and their hosts and elucidating the complexity of circuit behaviors arising from environmental variations.
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