jueves, 27 de marzo de 2014

Science gets closer to artificial life with first synthetic chromosome

An international team of scientists have made a major breakthrough in synthetic biology (Science Magazine). For the first time ever, they were able to insert a man-made, custom-built chromosome into brewer's yeast to not only create a life form but one that also passes down its man-made genes to its offspring. We're closer to creating artificial life.

Scientists have previously made chromosomes for bacteria and viruses but this is the first time they've been able to build a chromosome for something more complex. Called eukaryotic chromosomes, they have a nucleus and are found in plants, animals and humans.

The artificial chromosome, called synIII after the chromosome three in brewer's yeast it replaced, was stitched together via a computer by a team of scientists over a period of seven years. They basically redesigned the whole damn thing piece by piece. The scientist liken man-made chromosomes to the idea that you could shuffle genes into them like a deck of cards.

The yeast cells that contained the designer chromosomes behaved as normally as, well, normal yeast cells only that they could theoretically be improved and do things normal yeast cells could not. Potentially, scientists could create man-made versions of all the chromosomes in organisms thus creating artificial life. 

By Casey Chan

Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1249252

Total Synthesis of a Functional Designer Eukaryotic Chromosome

  1. Srinivasan Chandrasegaran1,

Author Affiliations
  1. 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
  2. 2High Throughput Biology Center, JHU School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
  3. 3Group Spatial Regulation of Genomes, Department of Genomes Genetics, Institut Pasteur, F-75015 Paris, France.
  4. 4CNRS, UMR 3525, F-75015 Paris, France.
  5. 5New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.
  6. 6Department of Biomedical Engineering and Institute of Genetic Medicine, Whiting School of Engineering, JHU, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
  7. 7Biological Sciences, Research and Exploratory Development Department, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 20723, USA.
  8. 8Department of Biology, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA.
  9. 9University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
  10. 10Carnegie Institution of Washington, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
  11. 11Department of Biology, JHU, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
  12. 12Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, JHU, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
  13. 13Whiting School of Engineering, JHU, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
  14. 14Pondicherry Biotech Private Limited, Pillaichavady, Puducherry 605014, India.
  15. 15Sorbonne Universités, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Univ Paris 06, UMR 7238, Génomique des Microorganismes, F-75005 Paris, France.
  16. 16CNRS, UMR7238, Génomique des Microorganismes, F-75005 Paris, France.
Rapid advances in DNA synthesis techniques have made it possible to engineer viruses, biochemical pathways and assemble bacterial genomes. Here, we report the synthesis of a functional 272,871–base pair designer eukaryotic chromosome, synIII, which is based on the 316,617–base pair native Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome III. Changes to synIII include TAG/TAA stop-codon replacements, deletion of subtelomeric regions, introns, transfer RNAs, transposons, and silent mating loci as well as insertion of loxPsym sites to enable genome scrambling. SynIII is functional in S. cerevisiae. Scrambling of the chromosome in a heterozygous diploid reveals a large increase in a-mater derivatives resulting from loss of the MATα allele on synIII. The complete design and synthesis of synIII establishes S. cerevisiae as the basis for designer eukaryotic genome biology.

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