Parity-check coding based on genetic circuits for engineered molecular communication between biological cells

Alessio Marcone, Massimiliano Pierobon, Maurizio Magarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Synthetic biology, through genetic circuit engineering in biological cells, is paving the way toward the realization of programmable man-made living devices, able to naturally operate within normally less accessible domains, i.e., the biological and the nanoscale. The control of the information processing and exchange between these engineered-cell devices, based on molecules and biochemical reactions, i.e., molecular communication (MC), will be enabling technologies for the emerging paradigm of the Internet of Bio-Nano Things, with applications ranging from tissue engineering to bioremediation. In this paper, the design of genetic circuits to enable MC links between engineered cells is proposed by stemming from techniques for information coding and inspired by recent studies favoring the efficiency of analog computation over digital in biological cells. In particular, the design of a joint encoder-modulator for the transmission of binary-modulated molecule concentration is coupled with a decoder that computes the a-posteriori log-likelihood ratio of the information bits from the propagated concentration. These functionalities are implemented entirely in the biochemical domain through activation and repression of genes, and biochemical reactions, rather than classical electrical circuits. Biochemical simulations are used to evaluate the proposed design against a theoretical encoder/decoder implementation taking into account impairments introduced by diffusion noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8418677
Pages (from-to)6221-6236
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Communications
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Hill's function
  • Internet of Bio-Nano Things
  • Molecular communication
  • analog decoding
  • biochemical simulation
  • genetic circuit
  • mass action kinetics
  • parity-check encoding
  • soft bit
  • synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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