Novel technique opens up new possibilities in synthetic genomics

Synthetic DNA molecule

A new technique to clone and reassemble DNA could simplify and lower the cost of making synthetic chromosomes, according to its creators at University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife.

Known as ‘CReATiNG’ (Cloning Reprogramming and Assembling Tiled Natural Genomic DNA), the method offers a simpler and more cost-effective approach to constructing synthetic chromosomes.

CReATiNG works by cloning and reassembling natural DNA segments from yeast, allowing scientists to create synthetic chromosomes that can replace their native counterparts in cells.

The technique enables researchers to combine chromosomes between different yeast strains and species, change chromosome structures, and delete multiple genes simultaneously.

Lead researcher Ian Ehrenreich, Professor of biological Sciences at USC Dornsife, said: “With CReATiNG, we can genetically reprogramme organisms in complex ways previously deemed impossible, even with new tools like CRISPR. This opens up a world of possibilities in synthetic biology, enhancing our fundamental understanding of life and paving the way for groundbreaking applications.”

The field of synthetic biology has emerged as a way for scientists to take control of living cells to better understand how they work and to enable them to produce useful compounds, such as new medicines.

“Over the last decade or so, a new form of synthetic biology has emerged called synthetic genomics, which involves synthesising whole chromosomes or entire genomes of organisms,” Ehrenreich said. “The thing about most synthetic genomics research is that it involves building chromosomes or genomes from scratch using chemically synthesised DNA pieces. This is a ton of work and extremely expensive.”

“CReATiNG offers an opportunity to use natural pieces of DNA as parts to assemble whole chromosomes,” said Agilent postdoctoral fellow Alessandro Coradini, who was study first author.

The findings are particularly significant for their potential applications in biotechnology and medicine. CReATiNG could lead to more efficient production of pharmaceuticals and aid in the development of cell therapies for diseases like cancer.

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