Accelerating Whole-Cell Simulations of mRNA Translation Using a Dedicated Hardware

David Shallom, Danny Naiger, Shlomo Weiss, Tamir Tuller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, intracellular biophysical simulations have been used with increasing frequency not only for answering basic scientific questions but also in the field of synthetic biology. However, since these models include networks of interaction between millions of components, they are extremely time-consuming and cannot run easily on parallel computers. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time a novel approach addressing this challenge by using a dedicated hardware designed specifically to simulate such processes. As a proof of concept, we specifically focus on mRNA translation, which is the process consuming most of the energy in the cell. We design a hardware that simulates translation in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae for thousands of mRNAs and ribosomes, which is in orders of magnitude faster than a similar software solution. With the sharp increase in the amount of genomic data available today and the complexity of the corresponding models inferred from them, we believe that the strategy suggested here will become common and can be used among others for simulating entire cells with all gene expression steps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3489-3506
Number of pages18
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 17 Dec 2021


  • FPGA
  • gene expression optimization
  • hardware acceleration
  • mRNA translation
  • whole-cell translation simulation


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