Synthetic genomics

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Synthetic genomics is a type of genetic engineering. It makes genes which never occur in nature.

Synthetic genomics does not use naturally occurring genes. It may use custom-designed base pair series. In the future, it might use genetic codes that are not composed of the two base pairs of DNA currently used by life forms.

Synthetic genomics uses techniques from genetics research. Researchers can make long base pair chains cheaply and accurately on a large scale. This allows them to do experiments on genomes which do not exist in nature. They also use ideas in protein folding and high-end computing facilities.

The J. Craig Venter Institute is working in this field. The team of about 20 researchers is led by Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith, DNA researcher Craig Venter and microbiologist Clyde A. Hutchison III. The Venter group has put together a semi-synthetic Mycoplasma genitalium bacterial genome by recombination of 25 overlapping fragments. This was done in a single step:

"The use of yeast recombination greatly simplifies the assembly of large DNA molecules from both synthetic and natural fragments".[1]

Geneticists have made the first synthetic chromosome for yeast.[2] "The genes in the original chromosome were replaced with synthetic versions and the finished man-made chromosome was then successfully integrated into a yeast cell".[2]

Other companies, including one called Synthetic Genomics (company), have been formed to take advantage of the many commercial uses of custom designed genomes.

References[change | change source]

  1. Daniel G. Gibson et al (2008). "One-step assembly in yeast of 25 overlapping DNA fragments to form a complete synthetic Mycoplasma genitalium genome". PNAS 105 (51): 20404–20409. doi:10.1073/pnas.0811011106. PMC 2600582. PMID 19073939. http://www.pnas.org/content/105/51/20404.full.pdf. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shukman, David 2014. BBC News Science & Environment. Scientists hail synthetic chromosome advance. [1]