A Unifying Mathematical Framework for Genetic Robustness, Environmental Robustness, Network Robustness and their Trade-offs on Phenotype Robustness in Biological Networks. Part III: Synthetic Gene Networks in Synthetic Biology
Chen, Bor-Sen; Lin, Ying-Po
Robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation are ubiquitous systematic properties that are observed in biological systems at many different levels. The underlying principles for robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation are universal to both complex biological systems and sophisticated engineering systems. In many biological networks, network robustness should be large enough to confer: intrinsic robustness for tolerating intrinsic parameter fluctuations; genetic robustness for buffering genetic variations; and environmental robustness for resisting environmental disturbances. Network robustness is needed so phenotype stability of biological network can be maintained, guaranteeing phenotype robustness. Synthetic biology is foreseen to have important applications in biotechnology and medicine; it is expected to contribute significantly to a better understanding of functioning of complex biological systems. This paper presents a unifying mathematical framework for investigating the principles of both robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation for synthetic gene networks in synthetic biology. Further, from the unifying mathematical framework, we found that the phenotype robustness criterion for synthetic gene networks is the following: if intrinsic robustness + genetic robustness + environmental robustness ≦ network robustness, then the phenotype robustness can be maintained in spite of intrinsic parameter fluctuations, genetic variations, and environmental disturbances. Therefore, the trade-offs between intrinsic robustness, genetic robustness, environmental robustness, and network robustness in synthetic biology can also be investigated through corresponding phenotype robustness criteria from the systematic point of view. Finally, a robust synthetic design that involves network evolution algorithms with desired behavior under intrinsic parameter fluctuations, genetic variations, and environmental
Full Text Available Tools that allow for rapid, accurate and inexpensive assembly of multi-component combinatorial libraries of DNA for transformation into plants will accelerate the progress of synthetic biology research. Recent progress in molecular cloning methods has vastly expanded the repertoire with which plant biologists can engineer a transgene. Here we describe a new set of binary vectors for use in Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation that utilizes the Golden-Gate cloning approach. Our optimized protocol facilitates the rapid and inexpensive generation of multi-component transgenes for later introduction into plants.
Liu, Wusheng; Stewart, C Neal
Plant synthetic biology is an emerging field that combines engineering principles with plant biology toward the design and production of new devices. This emerging field should play an important role in future agriculture for traditional crop improvement, but also in enabling novel bioproduction in plants. In this review we discuss the design cycles of synthetic biology as well as key engineering principles, genetic parts, and computational tools that can be utilized in plant synthetic biology. Some pioneering examples are offered as a demonstration of how synthetic biology can be used to modify plants for specific purposes. These include synthetic sensors, synthetic metabolic pathways, and synthetic genomes. We also speculate about the future of synthetic biology of plants.
Agapakis, Christina M
Synthetic biology is frequently defined as the application of engineering design principles to biology. Such principles are intended to streamline the practice of biological engineering, to shorten the time required to design, build, and test synthetic gene networks. This streamlining of iterative design cycles can facilitate the future construction of biological systems for a range of applications in the production of fuels, foods, materials, and medicines. The promise of these potential applications as well as the emphasis on design has prompted critical reflection on synthetic biology from design theorists and practicing designers from many fields, who can bring valuable perspectives to the discipline. While interdisciplinary connections between biologists and engineers have built synthetic biology via the science and the technology of biology, interdisciplinary collaboration with artists, designers, and social theorists can provide insight on the connections between technology and society. Such collaborations can open up new avenues and new principles for research and design, as well as shed new light on the challenging context-dependence-both biological and social-that face living technologies at many scales. This review is inspired by the session titled "Design and Synthetic Biology: Connecting People and Technology" at Synthetic Biology 6.0 and covers a range of literature on design practice in synthetic biology and beyond. Critical engagement with how design is used to shape the discipline opens up new possibilities for how we might design the future of synthetic biology.
A widespread and influential characterization of synthetic biology emphasizes that synthetic biology is the application of engineering principles to living systems. Furthermore, there is a strong tendency to express the engineering approach to organisms in terms of what seems to be an ontological claim: organisms are machines. In the paper I investigate the ontological and heuristic significance of the machine analogy in synthetic biology. I argue that the use of the machine analogy and the aim of producing rationally designed organisms does not necessarily imply a commitment to mechanical biology. The ideal of applying engineering principles to biology is best understood as expressing recognition of the machine-unlikeness of natural organisms and the limits of human cognition. The paper suggests an interpretation of the identification of organisms with machines in synthetic biology according to which it expresses a strategy for representing, understanding, and constructing living systems that are more machine-like than natural organisms.
Del Vecchio, Domitilla; Dy, Aaron J; Qian, Yili
The past several years have witnessed an increased presence of control theoretic concepts in synthetic biology. This review presents an organized summary of how these control design concepts have been applied to tackle a variety of problems faced when building synthetic biomolecular circuits in living cells. In particular, we describe success stories that demonstrate how simple or more elaborate control design methods can be used to make the behaviour of synthetic genetic circuits within a single cell or across a cell population more reliable, predictable and robust to perturbations. The description especially highlights technical challenges that uniquely arise from the need to implement control designs within a new hardware setting, along with implemented or proposed solutions. Some engineering solutions employing complex feedback control schemes are also described, which, however, still require a deeper theoretical analysis of stability, performance and robustness properties. Overall, this paper should help synthetic biologists become familiar with feedback control concepts as they can be used in their application area. At the same time, it should provide some domain knowledge to control theorists who wish to enter the rising and exciting field of synthetic biology.
The past several years have witnessed an increased presence of control theoretic concepts in synthetic biology. This review presents an organized summary of how these control design concepts have been applied to tackle a variety of problems faced when building synthetic biomolecular circuits in living cells. In particular, we describe success stories that demonstrate how simple or more elaborate control design methods can be used to make the behaviour of synthetic genetic circuits within a single cell or across a cell population more reliable, predictable and robust to perturbations. The description especially highlights technical challenges that uniquely arise from the need to implement control designs within a new hardware setting, along with implemented or proposed solutions. Some engineering solutions employing complex feedback control schemes are also described, which, however, still require a deeper theoretical analysis of stability, performance and robustness properties. Overall, this paper should help synthetic biologists become familiar with feedback control concepts as they can be used in their application area. At the same time, it should provide some domain knowledge to control theorists who wish to enter the rising and exciting field of synthetic biology. PMID:27440256
Malinova, V; Nallani, M; Meier, W P; Sinner, E K
The topic synthetic biology appears still as an 'empty basket to be filled'. However, there is already plenty of claims and visions, as well as convincing research strategies about the theme of synthetic biology. First of all, synthetic biology seems to be about the engineering of biology - about bottom-up and top-down approaches, compromising complexity versus stability of artificial architectures, relevant in biology. Synthetic biology accounts for heterogeneous approaches towards minimal and even artificial life, the engineering of biochemical pathways on the organismic level, the modelling of molecular processes and finally, the combination of synthetic with nature-derived materials and architectural concepts, such as a cellular membrane. Still, synthetic biology is a discipline, which embraces interdisciplinary attempts in order to have a profound, scientific base to enable the re-design of nature and to compose architectures and processes with man-made matter. We like to give an overview about the developments in the field of synthetic biology, regarding polymer-based analogs of cellular membranes and what questions can be answered by applying synthetic polymer science towards the smallest unit in life, namely a cell.
Menezes, Amor A.; Montague, Michael G.; Cumbers, John; Hogan, John A.; Arkin, Adam P.
Space synthetic biology is a branch of biotechnology dedicated to engineering biological systems for space exploration, industry and science. There is significant public and private interest in designing robust and reliable organisms that can assist on long-duration astronaut missions. Recent work has also demonstrated that such synthetic biology is a feasible payload minimization and life support approach as well. This article identifies the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the...
Menezes, Amor A; Montague, Michael G; Cumbers, John; Hogan, John A; Arkin, Adam P
Space synthetic biology is a branch of biotechnology dedicated to engineering biological systems for space exploration, industry and science. There is significant public and private interest in designing robust and reliable organisms that can assist on long-duration astronaut missions. Recent work has also demonstrated that such synthetic biology is a feasible payload minimization and life support approach as well. This article identifies the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the field of space synthetic biology, while highlighting relevant progress. It also outlines anticipated broader benefits from this field, because space engineering advances will drive technological innovation on Earth.
Rice, MaryJoe K.; Ruder, Warren C.
Synthetic biology is a new discipline that combines science and engineering approaches to precisely control biological networks. These signaling networks are especially important in fields such as biomedicine and biochemical engineering. Additionally, biological networks can also be critical to the production of naturally occurring biological nanomaterials, and as a result, synthetic biology holds tremendous potential in creating new materials. This review introduces the field of synthetic biology, discusses how biological systems naturally produce materials, and then presents examples and strategies for incorporating synthetic biology approaches in the development of new materials. In particular, strategies for using synthetic biology to produce both organic and inorganic nanomaterials are discussed. Ultimately, synthetic biology holds the potential to dramatically impact biological materials science with significant potential applications in medical systems.
Scharff, Lars B; Bock, Ralph
Plastids (chloroplasts) harbor a small gene-dense genome that is amenable to genetic manipulation by transformation. During 1 billion years of evolution from the cyanobacterial endosymbiont to present-day chloroplasts, the plastid genome has undergone a dramatic size reduction, mainly as a result of gene losses and the large-scale transfer of genes to the nuclear genome. Thus the plastid genome can be regarded as a naturally evolved miniature genome, the gradual size reduction and compaction of which has provided a blueprint for the design of minimum genomes. Furthermore, because of the largely prokaryotic genome structure and gene expression machinery, the high transgene expression levels attainable in transgenic chloroplasts and the very low production costs in plant systems, the chloroplast lends itself to synthetic biology applications that are directed towards the efficient synthesis of green chemicals, biopharmaceuticals and other metabolites of commercial interest. This review describes recent progress with the engineering of plastid genomes with large constructs of foreign or synthetic DNA, and highlights the potential of the chloroplast as a model system in bottom-up and top-down synthetic biology approaches.
Cook, Charis; Martin, Lisa; Bastow, Ruth
Synthetic biology is an emerging field uniting scientists from all disciplines with the aim of designing or re-designing biological processes. Initially, synthetic biology breakthroughs came from microbiology, chemistry, physics, computer science, materials science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines. A transition to multicellular systems is the next logical step for synthetic biologists and plants will provide an ideal platform for this new phase of research. This meeting report highlights some of the exciting plant synthetic biology projects, and tools and resources, presented and discussed at the 2013 GARNet workshop on plant synthetic biology.
Howard, David; Roman, Monsi; Mansell, James (Matt)
Synthetic biology is an effort to make genetic engineering more useful by standardizing sections of genetic code. By standardizing genetic components, biological engineering will become much more similar to traditional fields of engineering, in which well-defined components and subsystems are readily available in markets. Specifications of the behavior of those components and subsystems can be used to model a system which incorporates them. Then, the behavior of the novel system can be simulated and optimized. Finally, the components and subsystems can be purchased and assembled to create the optimized system, which most often will exhibit behavior similar to that indicated by the model. The Space Synthetic Biology project began in 2012 as a multi-Center effort. The purpose of this project was to harness Synthetic Biology principals to enable NASA's missions. A central target for application was to Environmental Control & Life Support (ECLS). Engineers from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's (MSFC's) ECLS Systems Development Branch (ES62) were brought into the project to contribute expertise in operational ECLS systems. Project lead scientists chose to pursue the development of bioelectrochemical technologies to spacecraft life support. Therefore, the ECLS element of the project became essentially an effort to develop a bioelectrochemical ECLS subsystem. Bioelectrochemical systems exploit the ability of many microorganisms to drive their metabolisms by direct or indirect utilization of electrical potential gradients. Whereas many microorganisms are capable of deriving the energy required for the processes of interest (such as carbon dioxide (CO2) fixation) from sunlight, it is believed that subsystems utilizing electrotrophs will exhibit smaller mass, volume, and power requirements than those that derive their energy from sunlight. In the first 2 years of the project, MSFC personnel conducted modeling, simulation, and conceptual design efforts to assist the
Leonard, Effendi; Nielsen, David; Solomon, Kevin; Prather, Kristala Jones
Typically, the outcome of biologically engineered unit operations cannot be controlled a priori due to the incorporation of ad hoc design into complex natural systems. To mitigate this problem, synthetic biology presents a systematic approach to standardizing biological components for the purpose of increasing their programmability and robustness when assembled with the aim to achieve novel biological functions. A complex engineered biological system using only standardized biological components is yet to exist. Nevertheless, current attempts to create and to implement modular, standardized biological components pave the way for the future creation of highly predictable artificial biological systems. Although synthetic biology frameworks can be applied to any biological engineering endeavor, this article will focus on providing a brief overview of advances in the field and its recent utilization for the engineering of microbes.
Howard, John; Murashov, Vladimir; Schulte, Paul
Synthetic biology is an emerging interdisciplinary field of biotechnology that involves applying the principles of engineering and chemical design to biological systems. Biosafety professionals have done an excellent job in addressing research laboratory safety as synthetic biology and gene editing have emerged from the larger field of biotechnology. Despite these efforts, risks posed by synthetic biology are of increasing concern as research procedures scale up to industrial processes in the larger bioeconomy. A greater number and variety of workers will be exposed to commercial synthetic biology risks in the future, including risks to a variety of workers from the use of lentiviral vectors as gene transfer devices. There is a need to review and enhance current protection measures in the field of synthetic biology, whether in experimental laboratories where new advances are being researched, in health care settings where treatments using viral vectors as gene delivery systems are increasingly being used, or in the industrial bioeconomy. Enhanced worker protection measures should include increased injury and illness surveillance of the synthetic biology workforce; proactive risk assessment and management of synthetic biology products; research on the relative effectiveness of extrinsic and intrinsic biocontainment methods; specific safety guidance for synthetic biology industrial processes; determination of appropriate medical mitigation measures for lentiviral vector exposure incidents; and greater awareness and involvement in synthetic biology safety by the general occupational safety and health community as well as by government occupational safety and health research and regulatory agencies.
Advances in synthetic biology are contributing to diverse research areas, from basic biology to biomanufacturing and disease therapy. We discuss the theoretical foundation, applications, and potential of this emerging field. PMID:22348749
Chen, Yvonne Yu-Hsuan; Galloway, Kate E; Smolke, Christina D.
Advances in synthetic biology are contributing to diverse research areas, from basic biology to biomanufacturing and disease therapy. We discuss the theoretical foundation, applications, and potential of this emerging field.
Oftedal, Gry; Parkkinen, Veli-Pekka
Synthetic biology research is often described in terms of programming cells through the introduction of synthetic genes. Genetic material is seemingly attributed with a high level of causal responsibility. We discuss genetic causation in synthetic biology and distinguish three gene concepts differing in their assumptions of genetic control. We argue that synthetic biology generally employs a difference-making approach to establishing genetic causes, and that this approach does not commit to a specific notion of genetic program or genetic control. Still, we suggest that a strong program concept of genetic material can be used as a successful heuristic in certain areas of synthetic biology. Its application requires control of causal context, and may stand in need of a modular decomposition of the target system. We relate different modularity concepts to the discussion of genetic causation and point to possible advantages of and important limitations to seeking modularity in synthetic biology systems. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Scaife, Mark Aden; Smith, Alison Gail
The genetic, physiological and metabolic diversity of microalgae has driven fundamental research into photosynthesis, flagella structure and function, and eukaryotic evolution. Within the last 10 years these organisms have also been investigated as potential biotechnology platforms, for example to produce high value compounds such as long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, pigments and antioxidants, and for biodiesel precursors, in particular triacylglycerols (TAGs). Transformation protocols, molecular tools and genome sequences are available for a number of model species including the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, although for both species there are bottlenecks to be overcome to allow rapid and predictable genetic manipulation. One approach to do this would be to apply the principles of synthetic biology to microalgae, namely the cycle of Design-Build-Test, which requires more robust, predictable and high throughput methods. In this mini-review we highlight recent progress in the areas of improving transgene expression, genome editing, identification and design of standard genetic elements (parts), and the use of microfluidics to increase throughput. We suggest that combining these approaches will provide the means to establish algal synthetic biology, and that application of standard parts and workflows will avoid parallel development and capitalize on lessons learned from other systems.
In this paper, we propose an historical survey of the expression "synthetic biology" in order to identify its main philosophical components. The result of the analysis is then used to investigate the meaning of the notion of "synthetic man". It is shown that both notions share a common philosophical background that can be summed up by the short but meaningful assertion: "biology is technology". The analysis allows us to distinguish two notions that are often confused in transhumanist literature: the notion of synthetic man and the notion of renewed man. The consequences of this crucial distinction are discussed. Copyright © 2015 Académie des sciences. Published by Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
Rabinow, Paul; Bennett, Gaymon
During 2007 and 2008 synthetic biology moved from the manifesto stage to research programs. As of 2009, synthetic biology is ramifying; to ramify means to produce differentiated trajectories from previous determinations. From its inception, most of the players in synthetic biology agreed on the need for (a) rationalized design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems as well as (b) the re-design of natural biological systems for specified purposes, and that (c) the versatility of designed biological systems makes them suitable to address such challenges as renewable energy, the production of inexpensive drugs, and environmental remediation, as well as providing a catalyst for further growth of biotechnology. What is understood by these goals, however, is diverse. Those assorted understandings are currently contributing to different ramifications of synthetic biology. The Berkeley Human Practices Lab, led by Paul Rabinow, is currently devoting its efforts to documenting and analyzing these ramifications as they emerge.
Metabolic engineering emerged 20 years ago as the discipline occupied with the directed modification of metabolic pathways for the microbial synthesis of various products. As such, it deals with the engineering (design, construction, and optimization) of native as well as non-natural routes of product synthesis, aided in this task by the availability of synthetic DNA, the core enabling technology of synthetic biology. The two fields, however, only partially overlap in their interest in pathway engineering. While fabrication of biobricks, synthetic cells, genetic circuits, and nonlinear cell dynamics, along with pathway engineering, have occupied researchers in the field of synthetic biology, the sum total of these areas does not constitute a coherent definition of synthetic biology with a distinct intellectual foundation and well-defined areas of application. This paper reviews the origins of the two fields and advances two distinct paradigms for each of them: that of unit operations for metabolic engineering and electronic circuits for synthetic biology. In this context, metabolic engineering is about engineering cell factories for the biological manufacturing of chemical and pharmaceutical products, whereas the main focus of synthetic biology is fundamental biological research facilitated by the use of synthetic DNA and genetic circuits.
Abil, Zhanar; Xiong, Xiong; Zhao, Huimin
Synthetic biology is a relatively new field with the key aim of designing and constructing biological systems with novel functionalities. Today, synthetic biology devices are making their first steps in contributing new solutions to a number of biomedical challenges, such as emerging bacterial antibiotic resistance and cancer therapy. This review discusses some synthetic biology approaches and applications that were recently used in disease mechanism investigation and disease modeling, drug discovery and production, as well as vaccine development and treatment of infectious diseases, cancer, and metabolic disorders.
Kong, Wentao; Blanchard, Andrew E; Liao, Chen; Lu, Ting
Controllable spatial patterning is a major goal for the engineering of biological systems. Recently, synthetic gene circuits have become promising tools to achieve the goal; however, they need to possess both functional robustness and tunability in order to facilitate future applications. Here we show that, by harnessing the dual signaling and antibiotic features of nisin, simple synthetic circuits can direct Lactococcus lactis populations to form programmed spatial band-pass structures that do not require fine-tuning and are robust against environmental and cellular context perturbations. Although robust, the patterns are highly tunable, with their band widths specified by the external nisin gradient and cellular nisin immunity. Additionally, the circuits can direct cells to consistently generate designed patterns, even when the gradient is driven by structured nisin-producing bacteria and the patterning cells are composed of multiple species. A mathematical model successfully reproduces all of the observed patterns. Furthermore, the circuits allow us to establish predictable structures of synthetic communities and controllable arrays of cellular stripes and spots in space. This study offers new synthetic biology tools to program spatial structures. It also demonstrates that a deep mining of natural functionalities of living systems is a valuable route to build circuit robustness and tunability.
Agustín-Pavón, Carmen; Isalan, Mark
Synthetic biology is an emerging engineering discipline that attempts to design and rewire biological components, so as to achieve new functions in a robust and predictable manner. The new tools and strategies provided by synthetic biology have the potential to improve therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, synthetic biology will help design small molecules, proteins, gene networks, and vectors to target disease-related genes. Ultimately, new intelligent delivery systems ...
The dissertation analyses and discusses a number of ethical issues that have been raised in connection with the development of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a set of new techniques for DNA-level design and construction of living beings with useful properties. The dissertation especially......) popular responsesto them succeed, and whether the objections are ultimately persuasive.2. Given that synthetic biology is a new technology, there is a certain degree of uncertainty about its ultimate effects, and many perceive the technology as risky. I discuss two common approaches in risk regulation...
The dissertation analyses and discusses a number of ethical issues that have been raised in connection with the development of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a set of new techniques for DNA-level design and construction of living beings with useful properties. The dissertation especially......) popular responsesto them succeed, and whether the objections are ultimately persuasive.2. Given that synthetic biology is a new technology, there is a certain degree of uncertainty about its ultimate effects, and many perceive the technology as risky. I discuss two common approaches in risk regulation...
Jain, K K
Synthetic biology, application of synthetic chemistry to biology, is a broad term that covers the engineering of biological systems with structures and functions not found in nature to process information, manipulate chemicals, produce energy, maintain cell environment and enhance human health. Synthetic biology devices contribute not only to improve our understanding of disease mechanisms, but also provide novel diagnostic tools. Methods based on synthetic biology enable the design of novel strategies for the treatment of cancer, immune diseases metabolic disorders and infectious diseases as well as the production of cheap drugs. The potential of synthetic genome, using an expanded genetic code that is designed for specific drug synthesis as well as delivery and activation of the drug in vivo by a pathological signal, was already pointed out during a lecture delivered at Kuwait University in 2005. Of two approaches to synthetic biology, top-down and bottom-up, the latter is more relevant to the development of personalized medicines as it provides more flexibility in constructing a partially synthetic cell from basic building blocks for a desired task. Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Sung Kuk Lee
Full Text Available Microfluidic technologies have shown powerful abilities for reducing cost, time, and labor, and at the same time, for increasing accuracy, throughput, and performance in the analysis of biological and biochemical samples compared with the conventional, macroscale instruments. Synthetic biology is an emerging field of biology and has drawn much attraction due to its potential to create novel, functional biological parts and systems for special purposes. Since it is believed that the development of synthetic biology can be accelerated through the use of microfluidic technology, in this review work we focus our discussion on the latest microfluidic technologies that can provide unprecedented means in synthetic biology for dynamic profiling of gene expression/regulation with high resolution, highly sensitive on-chip and off-chip detection of metabolites, and whole-cell analysis.
Markham, Kelly A; Alper, Hal S
In this review, we address recent advances in the field of synthetic biology and describe how those tools have been applied to produce a wide variety of chemicals in microorganisms. Here we classify the expansion of the synthetic biology toolbox into three different categories based on their primary function in strain engineering-for design, for construction, and for optimization. Next, focusing on recent years, we look at how chemicals have been produced using these new synthetic biology tools. Advances in producing fuels are briefly described, followed by a more thorough treatment of commodity chemicals, specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and nutraceuticals. Throughout this review, an emphasis is placed on how synthetic biology tools are applied to strain engineering. Finally, we discuss organism and host strain diversity and provide a future outlook in the field.
Ausländer, Simon; Ausländer, David; Fussenegger, Martin
Synthetic biology concerns the engineering of man-made living biomachines from standardized components that can perform predefined functions in a (self-)controlled manner. Different research strategies and interdisciplinary efforts are pursued to implement engineering principles to biology. The "top-down" strategy exploits nature's incredible diversity of existing, natural parts to construct synthetic compositions of genetic, metabolic, or signaling networks with predictable and controllable properties. This mainly application-driven approach results in living factories that produce drugs, biofuels, biomaterials, and fine chemicals, and results in living pills that are based on engineered cells with the capacity to autonomously detect and treat disease states in vivo. In contrast, the "bottom-up" strategy seeks to be independent of existing living systems by designing biological systems from scratch and synthesizing artificial biological entities not found in nature. This more knowledge-driven approach investigates the reconstruction of minimal biological systems that are capable of performing basic biological phenomena, such as self-organization, self-replication, and self-sustainability. Moreover, the syntheses of artificial biological units, such as synthetic nucleotides or amino acids, and their implementation into polymers inside living cells currently set the boundaries between natural and artificial biological systems. In particular, the in vitro design, synthesis, and transfer of complete genomes into host cells point to the future of synthetic biology: the creation of designer cells with tailored desirable properties for biomedicine and biotechnology. © 2017 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Synthetic biology is an emerging technical field that aims to make biology easier to engineer; the field has applications in strategically important sectors for the US economy. While the United States currently leads in synthetic biology R&D, other nations are heavily investing in order to boost their economies, which will inevitably diminish the US leadership position. This outcome is not entirely negative—additional investments will expand markets—but it is critical that the US government take steps to remain competitive: There are applications from which the US population and economy may benefit; there are specific applications with importance for national defense; and US technical leadership will ensure that US experts have a leading role in synthetic biology governance, regulation, and oversight. Measures to increase competitiveness in S&T generally are broadly applicable for synthetic biology and should be pursued. However, the US government will also need to take action on fundamental issues that will affect the field's development, such as countering anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) sentiments and anti-GMO legislation. The United States should maintain its regulatory approach so that it is the product that is regulated, not the method used to create a product. At the same time, the United States needs to ensure that the regulatory framework is updated so that synthetic biology products do not fall into regulatory gaps. Finally, the United States needs to pay close attention to how synthetic biology applications may be governed internationally, such as through the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity, so that beneficial applications may be realized. PMID:26690379
Gronvall, Gigi Kwik
Synthetic biology is an emerging technical field that aims to make biology easier to engineer; the field has applications in strategically important sectors for the US economy. While the United States currently leads in synthetic biology R&D, other nations are heavily investing in order to boost their economies, which will inevitably diminish the US leadership position. This outcome is not entirely negative--additional investments will expand markets--but it is critical that the US government take steps to remain competitive: There are applications from which the US population and economy may benefit; there are specific applications with importance for national defense; and US technical leadership will ensure that US experts have a leading role in synthetic biology governance, regulation, and oversight. Measures to increase competitiveness in S&T generally are broadly applicable for synthetic biology and should be pursued. However, the US government will also need to take action on fundamental issues that will affect the field's development, such as countering anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) sentiments and anti-GMO legislation. The United States should maintain its regulatory approach so that it is the product that is regulated, not the method used to create a product. At the same time, the United States needs to ensure that the regulatory framework is updated so that synthetic biology products do not fall into regulatory gaps. Finally, the United States needs to pay close attention to how synthetic biology applications may be governed internationally, such as through the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity, so that beneficial applications may be realized.
In silicio design plays a fundamental role in the endeavour to synthesise biological systems. In particular, computer-aided design software enables users to manage the complexity of biological entities that is connected to their construction and reconfiguration. The software's graphical user interface bridges the gap between the machine-readable data on the algorithmic subface of the computer and its human-amenable surface represented by standardised diagrammatic elements. Notations like the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN), together with interactive operations such as drag & drop, allow the user to visually design and simulate synthetic systems as 'bio-algorithmic signs'. Finally, the digital programming process should be extended to the wet lab to manufacture the designed synthetic biological systems. By exploring the different 'faces' of synthetic biology, I argue that in particular computer-aided design (CAD) is pushing the idea to automatically produce de novo objects. Multifaceted software processes serve mutually aesthetic, epistemic and performative purposes by simultaneously black-boxing and bridging different data sources, experimental operations and community-wide standards. So far, synthetic biology is mainly a product of digital media technologies that structurally mimic the epistemological challenge to take both qualitative as well as quantitative aspects of biological systems into account in order to understand and produce new and functional entities.
Manzoni, Romilde; Urrios, Arturo; Velazquez-Garcia, Silvia; de Nadal, Eulàlia; Posas, Francesc
Organisms have evolved a broad array of complex signaling mechanisms that allow them to survive in a wide range of environmental conditions. They are able to sense external inputs and produce an output response by computing the information. Synthetic biology attempts to rationally engineer biological systems in order to perform desired functions. Our increasing understanding of biological systems guides this rational design, while the huge background in electronics for building circuits defines the methodology. In this context, biocomputation is the branch of synthetic biology aimed at implementing artificial computational devices using engineered biological motifs as building blocks. Biocomputational devices are defined as biological systems that are able to integrate inputs and return outputs following pre-determined rules. Over the last decade the number of available synthetic engineered devices has increased exponentially; simple and complex circuits have been built in bacteria, yeast and mammalian cells. These devices can manage and store information, take decisions based on past and present inputs, and even convert a transient signal into a sustained response. The field is experiencing a fast growth and every day it is easier to implement more complex biological functions. This is mainly due to advances in in vitro DNA synthesis, new genome editing tools, novel molecular cloning techniques, continuously growing part libraries as well as other technological advances. This allows that digital computation can now be engineered and implemented in biological systems. Simple logic gates can be implemented and connected to perform novel desired functions or to better understand and redesign biological processes. Synthetic biological digital circuits could lead to new therapeutic approaches, as well as new and efficient ways to produce complex molecules such as antibiotics, bioplastics or biofuels. Biological computation not only provides possible biomedical and
Umesh, P; Naveen, F; Rao, Chanchala Uma Maheswara; Nair, Achuthsankar S
In the backdrop of accelerated efforts for creating synthetic organisms, the nature and scope of an ideal programming language for scripting synthetic organism in-silico has been receiving increasing attention. A few programming languages for synthetic biology capable of defining, constructing, networking, editing and delivering genome scale models of cellular processes have been recently attempted. All these represent important points in a spectrum of possibilities. This paper introduces Kera, a state of the art programming language for synthetic biology which is arguably ahead of similar languages or tools such as GEC, Antimony and GenoCAD. Kera is a full-fledged object oriented programming language which is tempered by biopart rule library named Samhita which captures the knowledge regarding the interaction of genome components and catalytic molecules. Prominent feature of the language are demonstrated through a toy example and the road map for the future development of Kera is also presented.
It has become commonplace to say that with the advent of technologies like synthetic biology the line between artifacts and living organisms, policed by metaphysicians since antiquity, is beginning to blur. But that line began to blur 10,000 years ago when plants and animals were first domesticated; and has been thoroughly blurred at least since agriculture became the dominant human subsistence pattern many millennia ago. Synthetic biology is ultimately only a late and unexceptional offshoot of this prehistoric development. From this perspective, then, synthetic biology is a red herring, distracting us from more thorough philosophical consideration of the most truly revolutionary human practice-agriculture. In the first section of this paper I will make this case with regard to ontology, arguing that synthetic biology crosses no ontological lines that were not crossed already in the Neolithic. In the second section I will construct a parallel case with regard to cognition, arguing that synthetic biology as biological engineering represents no cognitive advance over what was required for domestication and the new agricultural subsistence pattern it grounds. In the final section I will make the case with regard to human existence, arguing that synthetic biology, even if wildly successful, is not in a position to cause significant existential change in what it is to be human over and above the massive existential change caused by the transition to agriculture. I conclude that a longer historical perspective casts new light on some important issues in philosophy of technology and environmental philosophy. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Rothschild, Lynn J.
Synthetic biology - the design and construction of new biological parts and systems and the redesign of existing ones for useful purposes - has the potential to transform fields from pharmaceuticals to fuels. Our lab has focused on the potential of synthetic biology to revolutionize all three major parts of astrobiology: Where do we come from? Where are we going? and Are we alone? For the first and third, synthetic biology is allowing us to answer whether the evolutionary narrative that has played out on planet earth is likely to have been unique or universal. For example, in our lab we are re-evolving the biosynthetic pathways of amino acids in order to understand potential capabilities of an early organism with a limited repertoire of amino acids and developing techniques for the recovery of metals from spent electronics on other planetary bodies. And what about the limits for life? Can we create organisms that expand the envelope for life? In the future synthetic biology will play an increasing role in human activities both on earth, in fields as diverse as human health and the industrial production of novel bio-composites. Beyond earth, we will rely increasingly on biologically-provided life support, as we have throughout our evolutionary history. In order to do this, the field will build on two of the great contributions of astrobiology: studies of the origin of life and life in extreme environments.
José Manuel De Cózar Escalante
Full Text Available Synthetic biology is a new science and emerging technology, or rather a technoscience, which converges with others such as nanotechnology, information technology, robotics, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. All have common features that could have highly concerning social and environmental impacts. With its ambitious goals of controlling complexity, redesigning and creating new living entities, synthetic biology perfectly exemplifies the new bioeconomic reality. This requires expanding the focus of the discussion beyond the limited comparative analysis of risks and benefits, to address uncertainties, reassign responsibilities and initiate a thorough social assessment of what is at stake.
photosynthesis into artificial metabolic pathways. During the course of the granting period, we also made significant progress on understanding the...compartmentalization of carbon fixation and flux in relationship to photosynthesis and obtained 1. REPORT DATE (DD-MM-YYYY) 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE...2014 Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited Final Report: Synthetic Biological Engineering of Photosynthesis The views, opinions and/or
Myers, Chris; Clancy, Kevin; Misirli, Goksel; Oberortner, Ernst; Pocock, Matthew; Quinn, Jacqueline; Roehner, Nicholas; Sauro, Herbert M
The design and construction of engineered organisms is an emerging new discipline called synthetic biology and holds considerable promise as a new technological platform. The design of biologically engineered systems is however nontrivial, requiring contributions from a wide array of disciplines. One particular issue that confronts synthetic biologists is the ability to unambiguously describe novel designs such that they can be reengineered by a third-party. For this reason, the synthetic biology open language (SBOL) was developed as a community wide standard for formally representing biological designs. A design created by one engineering team can be transmitted electronically to another who can then use this design to reproduce the experimental results. The development and the community of the SBOL standard started in 2008 and has since grown in use with now over 80 participants, including international, academic, and industrial interests. SBOL has stimulated the development of repositories and software tools to help synthetic biologists in their design efforts. This chapter summarizes the latest developments and future of the SBOL standard and its supporting infrastructure.
Liang, Jing; Luo, Yunzi; Zhao, Huimin
The ability to manipulate living organisms is at the heart of a range of emerging technologies that serve to address important and current problems in environment, energy, and health. However, with all its complexity and interconnectivity, biology has for many years been recalcitrant to engineering manipulations. The recent advances in synthesis, analysis, and modeling methods have finally provided the tools necessary to manipulate living systems in meaningful ways, and have led to the coining of a field named synthetic biology. The scope of synthetic biology is as complicated as life itself – encompassing many branches of science, and across many scales of application. New DNA synthesis and assembly techniques have made routine the customization of very large DNA molecules. This in turn has allowed the incorporation of multiple genes and pathways. By coupling these with techniques that allow for the modeling and design of protein functions, scientists have now gained the tools to create completely novel biological machineries. Even the ultimate biological machinery – a self-replicating organism – is being pursued at this moment. It is the purpose of this review to dissect and organize these various components of synthetic biology into a coherent picture. PMID:21064036
Liang, Jing; Luo, Yunzi; Zhao, Huimin
The ability to manipulate living organisms is at the heart of a range of emerging technologies that serve to address important and current problems in environment, energy, and health. However, with all its complexity and interconnectivity, biology has for many years been recalcitrant to engineering manipulations. The recent advances in synthesis, analysis, and modeling methods have finally provided the tools necessary to manipulate living systems in meaningful ways and have led to the coining of a field named synthetic biology. The scope of synthetic biology is as complicated as life itself--encompassing many branches of science and across many scales of application. New DNA synthesis and assembly techniques have made routine customization of very large DNA molecules. This in turn has allowed the incorporation of multiple genes and pathways. By coupling these with techniques that allow for the modeling and design of protein functions, scientists have now gained the tools to create completely novel biological machineries. Even the ultimate biological machinery--a self-replicating organism--is being pursued at this moment. The aim of this article is to dissect and organize these various components of synthetic biology into a coherent picture.
Davies, Jamie A; Cachat, Elise
Classical tissue engineering is aimed mainly at producing anatomically and physiologically realistic replacements for normal human tissues. It is done either by encouraging cellular colonization of manufactured matrices or cellular recolonization of decellularized natural extracellular matrices from donor organs, or by allowing cells to self-organize into organs as they do during fetal life. For repair of normal bodies, this will be adequate but there are reasons for making unusual, non-evolved tissues (repair of unusual bodies, interface to electromechanical prostheses, incorporating living cells into life-support machines). Synthetic biology is aimed mainly at engineering cells so that they can perform custom functions: applying synthetic biological approaches to tissue engineering may be one way of engineering custom structures. In this article, we outline the 'embryological cycle' of patterning, differentiation and morphogenesis and review progress that has been made in constructing synthetic biological systems to reproduce these processes in new ways. The state-of-the-art remains a long way from making truly synthetic tissues, but there are now at least foundations for future work. © 2016 Authors; published by Portland Press Limited.
Appleton, Evan; Madsen, Curtis; Roehner, Nicholas; Densmore, Douglas
Design automation refers to a category of software tools for designing systems that work together in a workflow for designing, building, testing, and analyzing systems with a target behavior. In synthetic biology, these tools are called bio-design automation (BDA) tools. In this review, we discuss the BDA tools areas-specify, design, build, test, and learn-and introduce the existing software tools designed to solve problems in these areas. We then detail the functionality of some of these tools and show how they can be used together to create the desired behavior of two types of modern synthetic genetic regulatory networks.
Huang, Haiyao; Densmore, Douglas
One goal of synthetic biology is to design and build genetic circuits in living cells for a range of applications. Major challenges in these efforts include increasing the scalability and robustness of engineered biological systems and streamlining and automating the synthetic biology workflow of specification-design-assembly-verification. We present here a summary of the advances in microfluidic technology, particularly microfluidic large scale integration, that can be used to address the challenges facing each step of the synthetic biology workflow. Microfluidic technologies allow precise control over the flow of biological content within microscale devices, and thus may provide more reliable and scalable construction of synthetic biological systems. The integration of microfluidics and synthetic biology has the capability to produce rapid prototyping platforms for characterization of genetic devices, testing of biotherapeutics, and development of biosensors.
Chen, Bor-Sen; Hsu, Chih-Yuan; Liou, Jing-Jia
Artificial gene circuits have been proposed to be embedded into microbial cells that function as switches, timers, oscillators, and the Boolean logic gates. Building more complex systems from these basic gene circuit components is one key advance for biologic circuit design and synthetic biology. However, the behavior of bioengineered gene circuits remains unstable and uncertain. In this study, a nonlinear stochastic system is proposed to model the biological systems with intrinsic parameter fluctuations and environmental molecular noise from the cellular context in the host cell. Based on evolutionary systems biology algorithm, the design parameters of target gene circuits can evolve to specific values in order to robustly track a desired biologic function in spite of intrinsic and environmental noise. The fitness function is selected to be inversely proportional to the tracking error so that the evolutionary biological circuit can achieve the optimal tracking mimicking the evolutionary process of a gene circuit. Finally, several design examples are given in silico with the Monte Carlo simulation to illustrate the design procedure and to confirm the robust performance of the proposed design method. The result shows that the designed gene circuits can robustly track desired behaviors with minimal errors even with nontrivial intrinsic and external noise.
Paijmans, Joris; Lubensky, David K.; Rein ten Wolde, Pieter
Synthetic biology sets out to implement new functions in cells, and to develop a deeper understanding of biological design principles. Elowitz and Leibler [Nature (London) 403, 335 (2000), 10.1038/35002125] showed that by rational design of the reaction network, and using existing biological components, they could create a network that exhibits periodic gene expression, dubbed the repressilator. More recently, Stricker et al. [Nature (London) 456, 516 (2008), 10.1038/nature07389] presented another synthetic oscillator, called the dual-feedback oscillator, which is more stable. Detailed studies have been carried out to determine how the stability of these oscillators is affected by the intrinsic noise of the interactions between the components and the stochastic expression of their genes. However, as all biological oscillators reside in growing and dividing cells, an important question is how these oscillators are perturbed by the cell cycle. In previous work we showed that the periodic doubling of the gene copy numbers due to DNA replication can couple not only natural, circadian oscillators to the cell cycle [Paijmans et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 113, 4063 (2016), 10.1073/pnas.1507291113], but also these synthetic oscillators. Here we expand this study. We find that the strength of the locking between oscillators depends not only on the positions of the genes on the chromosome, but also on the noise in the timing of gene replication: noise tends to weaken the coupling. Yet, even in the limit of high levels of noise in the replication times of the genes, both synthetic oscillators show clear signatures of locking to the cell cycle. This work enhances our understanding of the design of robust biological oscillators inside growing and diving cells.
Chopra, Paras; Kamma, Akhil
Synthetic Biology is a field involving synthesis of novel biological systems which are not generally found in nature. It has brought a new paradigm in science as it has enabled scientists to create life from the scratch, hence helping better understand the principles of biology. The viability of living organisms that use unnatural molecules is also being explored. Unconventional projects such as DNA playing tic-tac-toe, bacterial photographic film, etc. are taking biology to its extremes. The field holds a promise for mass production of cheap drugs and programming bacteria to seek-and-destroy tumors in the body. However, the complexity of biological systems make the field a challenging one. In addition to this, there are other major technical and ethical challenges which need to be addressed before the field realizes its true potential.
Pade, Christian; Wigger, Henning; Gleich, Arnim
Synthetic Biology is already an object of intensive debate. However, to a great extent the discussion to date has been concerned with fundamental ethical, religious and philosophical questions. By contrast, based on an investigation of the field’s scientific and technological character, this book focuses on new functionalities provided by synthetic biology and explores the associated opportunities and risks. Following an introduction to the subject and a discussion of the most central paradigms and methodologies, the book provides an overview of the structure of this field of science and technology. It informs the reader about the current stage of development, as well as topical problems and potential opportunities in important fields of application. But not only the science itself is in focus. In order to investigate its broader impact, ecological as well as ethical implications will be considered, paving the way for a discussion of responsibilities in the context of a field at a transitional crossroads be...
Campbell, A. Malcolm
The field of synthetic biology (the name is derived from an analogy to synthetic chemistry) has recognized itself as a "field" only since about 2002. Synthetic biology has gotten some high-profile attention recently, but most people are not aware the field even exists. Synthetic biologists apply engineering principles to genomic circuits to…
Campbell, A. Malcolm
The field of synthetic biology (the name is derived from an analogy to synthetic chemistry) has recognized itself as a "field" only since about 2002. Synthetic biology has gotten some high-profile attention recently, but most people are not aware the field even exists. Synthetic biologists apply engineering principles to genomic circuits to…
Kelwick, Richard; MacDonald, James T.; Webb, Alexander J.; Freemont, Paul
Synthetic biology is principally concerned with the rational design and engineering of biologically based parts, devices, or systems. However, biological systems are generally complex and unpredictable, and are therefore, intrinsically difficult to engineer. In order to address these fundamental challenges, synthetic biology is aiming to unify a “body of knowledge” from several foundational scientific fields, within the context of a set of engineering principles. This shift in perspective is enabling synthetic biologists to address complexity, such that robust biological systems can be designed, assembled, and tested as part of a biological design cycle. The design cycle takes a forward-design approach in which a biological system is specified, modeled, analyzed, assembled, and its functionality tested. At each stage of the design cycle, an expanding repertoire of tools is being developed. In this review, we highlight several of these tools in terms of their applications and benefits to the synthetic biology community. PMID:25505788
Full Text Available Synthetic biology is principally concerned with the rational design and engineering of biologically based parts, devices or systems. However, biological systems are generally complex and unpredictable and are therefore intrinsically difficult to engineer. In order to address these fundamental challenges, synthetic biology is aiming to unify a ‘body of knowledge’ from several foundational scientific fields, within the context of a set of engineering principles. This shift in perspective is enabling synthetic biologists to address complexity, such that robust biological systems can be designed, assembled and tested as part of a biological design cycle. The design cycle takes a forward-design approach in which a biological system is specified, modeled, analyzed, assembled and its functionality tested. At each stage of the design cycle an expanding repertoire of tools is being developed. In this review we highlight several of these tools in terms of their applications and benefits to the synthetic biology community.
Connor, Michael R.; Atsumi, Shota
The advancement of microbial processes for the production of renewable liquid fuels has increased with concerns about the current fuel economy. The development of advanced biofuels in particular has risen to address some of the shortcomings of ethanol. These advanced fuels have chemical properties similar to petroleum-based liquid fuels, thus removing the need for engine modification or infrastructure redesign. While the productivity and titers of each of these processes remains to be improved, progress in synthetic biology has provided tools to guide the engineering of these processes through present and future challenges. PMID:20827393
Michael R. Connor
Full Text Available The advancement of microbial processes for the production of renewable liquid fuels has increased with concerns about the current fuel economy. The development of advanced biofuels in particular has risen to address some of the shortcomings of ethanol. These advanced fuels have chemical properties similar to petroleum-based liquid fuels, thus removing the need for engine modification or infrastructure redesign. While the productivity and titers of each of these processes remains to be improved, progress in synthetic biology has provided tools to guide the engineering of these processes through present and future challenges.
The development of synthetic biology will shape the new era of science and technology. It is an emerging bioengineering technique involving genetic engineering which can alter the phenotype and behavior of the cell or the new product. Synthetic biology may produce biomaterials, drugs, vaccines, biosensors, and even a recombinant secondary metabolite used in herbal and complementary medicine, such as artemisinin, a malaria drug which is usually extracted from the plant Artemisia annua. The power of synthetic biology has encouraged scientists in Indonesia, and is still in early development. This paper also covers some research from an Indonesian research institute in synthetic biology such as observing the production of bio surfactants and the enhanced production of artemisinin using a transient expression system. Synthetic biology development in Indonesia may also be related to the iGEM competition, a large synthetic biology research competition which was attended by several universities in Indonesia. The application of synthetic biology for drug discovery will be discussed.
Patanè, Andrea; Santoro, Andrea; Costanza, Jole; Carapezza, Giovanni; Nicosia, Giuseppe
Recent advances in synthetic biology call for robust, flexible and efficient in silico optimization methodologies. We present a Pareto design approach for the bi-level optimization problem associated to the overproduction of specific metabolites in Escherichia coli. Our method efficiently explores the high dimensional genetic manipulation space, finding a number of trade-offs between synthetic and biological objectives, hence furnishing a deeper biological insight to the addressed problem and important results for industrial purposes. We demonstrate the computational capabilities of our Pareto-oriented approach comparing it with state-of-the-art heuristics in the overproduction problems of i) 1,4-butanediol, ii) myristoyl-CoA, i ii) malonyl-CoA , iv) acetate and v) succinate. We show that our algorithms are able to gracefully adapt and scale to more complex models and more biologically-relevant simulations of the genetic manipulations allowed. The Results obtained for 1,4-butanediol overproduction significantly outperform results previously obtained, in terms of 1,4-butanediol to biomass formation ratio and knock-out costs. In particular overproduction percentage is of +662.7%, from 1.425 mmolh⁻¹gDW⁻¹ (wild type) to 10.869 mmolh⁻¹gDW⁻¹, with a knockout cost of 6. Whereas, Pareto-optimal designs we have found in fatty acid optimizations strictly dominate the ones obtained by the other methodologies, e.g., biomass and myristoyl-CoA exportation improvement of +21.43% (0.17 h⁻¹) and +5.19% (1.62 mmolh⁻¹gDW⁻¹), respectively. Furthermore CPU time required by our heuristic approach is more than halved. Finally we implement pathway oriented sensitivity analysis, epsilon-dominance analysis and robustness analysis to enhance our biological understanding of the problem and to improve the optimization algorithm capabilities.
Zakeri, Bijan; Lu, Timothy K.
Antibiotic discovery has a storied history. From the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming to the relentless quest for antibiotics by Selman Waksman, the stories have become like folklore, used to inspire future generations of scientists. However, recent discovery pipelines have run dry at a time when multidrug resistant pathogens are on the rise. Nature has proven to be a valuable reservoir of antimicrobial agents, which are primarily produced by modularized biochemical pathways. Such modularization is well suited to remodeling by an interdisciplinary approach that spans science and engineering. Herein, we discuss the biological engineering of small molecules, peptides, and non-traditional antimicrobials and provide an overview of the growing applicability of synthetic biology to antimicrobials discovery. PMID:23654251
Passel, van M.W.J.; Lam, C.M.C.; Martins dos Santos, V.A.P.; Suarez Diez, M.
Synthetic biology draws on the understanding from genetics, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, and computational sciences to (re-)design and (re-)engineer biological functions. Here we address how synthetic biology can be possibly deployed to promote health and tackle disease. We discuss how
Passel, van M.W.J.; Lam, C.M.C.; Martins dos Santos, V.A.P.; Suarez Diez, M.
Synthetic biology draws on the understanding from genetics, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, and computational sciences to (re-)design and (re-)engineer biological functions. Here we address how synthetic biology can be possibly deployed to promote health and tackle disease. We discuss how
Federici, Fernán; Rudge, Timothy J; Pollak, Bernardo; Haseloff, Jim; Gutiérrez, Rodrigo A
In an age of pressing challenges for sustainable production of energy and food, the new field of Synthetic Biology has emerged as a promising approach to engineer biological systems. Synthetic Biology is formulating the design principles to engineer affordable, scalable, predictable and robust functions in biological systems. In addition to efficient transfer of evolved traits from one organism to another, Synthetic Biology offers a new and radical approach to bottom-up engineering of sensors, actuators, dynamical controllers and the biological chassis they are embedded in. Because it abstracts much of the mechanistic details underlying biological component behavior, Synthetic Biology methods and resources can be readily used by interdisciplinary teams to tackle complex problems. In addition, the advent of robust new methods for the assembly of large genetic circuits enables teaching Biology and Bioengineering in a learning-by-making fashion for diverse backgrounds at the graduate, undergraduate and high school levels. Synthetic Biology offers unique opportunities to empower interdisciplinary training, research and industrial development in Chile for a technology that promises a significant role in this century's economy.
Shapira, Philip; Kwon, Seokbeom; Youtie, Jan
Synthetic biology is an emerging domain that combines biological and engineering concepts and which has seen rapid growth in research, innovation, and policy interest in recent years. This paper contributes to efforts to delineate this emerging domain by presenting a newly constructed bibliometric definition of synthetic biology. Our approach is dimensioned from a core set of papers in synthetic biology, using procedures to obtain benchmark synthetic biology publication records, extract keywords from these benchmark records, and refine the keywords, supplemented with articles published in dedicated synthetic biology journals. We compare our search strategy with other recent bibliometric approaches to define synthetic biology, using a common source of publication data for the period from 2000 to 2015. The paper details the rapid growth and international spread of research in synthetic biology in recent years, demonstrates that diverse research disciplines are contributing to the multidisciplinary development of synthetic biology research, and visualizes this by profiling synthetic biology research on the map of science. We further show the roles of a relatively concentrated set of research sponsors in funding the growth and trajectories of synthetic biology. In addition to discussing these analyses, the paper notes limitations and suggests lines for further work.
Kitney, Richard; Freemont, Paul
Just over two years ago there was an article in Nature entitled "Five Hard Truths for Synthetic Biology". Since then, the field has moved on considerably. A number of economic commentators have shown that synthetic biology very significant industrial potential. This paper addresses key issues in relation to the state of play regarding synthetic biology. It first considers the current background to synthetic biology, whether it is a legitimate field and how it relates to foundational biological sciences. The fact that synthetic biology is a translational field is discussed and placed in the context of the industrial translation process. An important aspect of synthetic biology is platform technology, this topic is also discussed in some detail. Finally, examples of application areas are described. Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Jain, Aastha; Bhatia, Pooja; Chugh, Archana
The emerging field of synthetic biology holds tremendous potential for developing novel drugs to treat various human conditions. The current study discusses the scope of synthetic biology for human therapeutics via microbial approach. In this context, synthetic biology aims at designing, engineering and building new microbial synthetic cells that do not pre-exist in nature as well as re-engineer existing microbes for synthesis of therapeutic products. It is expected that the construction of novel microbial genetic circuitry for human therapeutics will greatly benefit from the data generated by 'omics' approaches and multidisciplinary nature of synthetic biology. Development of novel antimicrobial drugs and vaccines by engineering microbial systems are a promising area of research in the field of synthetic biology for human theragnostics. Expression of plant based medicinal compounds in the microbial system using synthetic biology tools is another avenue dealt in the present study. Additionally, the study suggest that the traditional medicinal knowledge can do value addition for developing novel drugs in the microbial systems using synthetic biology tools. The presented work envisions the success of synthetic biology for human therapeutics via microbial approach in a holistic manner. Keeping this in view, various legal and socio-ethical concerns emerging from the use of synthetic biology via microbial approach such as patenting, biosafety and biosecurity issues have been touched upon in the later sections.
I examine the positive and negative features of synthetic biology ('SynBio') from a utilitarian ethical perspective. The potential beneficial outcomes from SynBio in the context of medicine are substantial; however it is not presently possible to predict precise outcomes due to the nascent state of the field. Potential negative outcomes from SynBio also exist, including iatrogenesis and bioterrorism; however it is not yet possible to quantify these risks. I argue that the application of a 'precautionary' approach to SynBio is ethically fraught, as is the notion that SynBio-associated knowledge ought to be restricted. I conclude that utilitarians ought to support a broadly laissez-faire stance in respect of SynBio.
Sleator, Roy D
Existing at the interface of science and engineering, synthetic biology represents a new and emerging field of mainstream biology. However, there also exists a counterculture of Do-It-Yourself biologists, citizen scientists, who have made significant inroads, particularly in the design and development of new tools and techniques. Herein, I review the development and convergence of synthetic biology's mainstream and countercultures.
Trosset, Jean-Yves; Carbonell, Pablo
Synthetic biology aims at translating the methods and strategies from engineering into biology in order to streamline the design and construction of biological devices through standardized parts. Modular synthetic biology devices are designed by means of an adequate elimination of cross-talk that makes circuits orthogonal and specific. To that end, synthetic constructs need to be adequately optimized through in silico modeling by choosing the right complement of genetic parts and by experimental tuning through directed evolution and craftsmanship. In this review, we consider an additional and complementary tool available to the synthetic biologist for innovative design and successful construction of desired circuit functionalities: biological synergies. Synergy is a prevalent emergent property in biological systems that arises from the concerted action of multiple factors producing an amplification or cancelation effect compared with individual actions alone. Synergies appear in domains as diverse as those involved in chemical and protein activity, polypharmacology, and metabolic pathway complementarity. In conventional synthetic biology designs, synergistic cross-talk between parts and modules is generally attenuated in order to verify their orthogonality. Synergistic interactions, however, can induce emergent behavior that might prove useful for synthetic biology applications, like in functional circuit design, multi-drug treatment, or in sensing and delivery devices. Synergistic design principles are therefore complementary to those coming from orthogonal design and may provide added value to synthetic biology applications. The appropriate modeling, characterization, and design of synergies between biological parts and units will allow the discovery of yet unforeseeable, novel synthetic biology applications.
O'Malley, Maureen A; Powell, Alexander; Davies, Jonathan F; Calvert, Jane
Synthetic biology is an increasingly high-profile area of research that can be understood as encompassing three broad approaches towards the synthesis of living systems: DNA-based device construction, genome-driven cell engineering and protocell creation. Each approach is characterized by different aims, methods and constructs, in addition to a range of positions on intellectual property and regulatory regimes. We identify subtle but important differences between the schools in relation to their treatments of genetic determinism, cellular context and complexity. These distinctions tie into two broader issues that define synthetic biology: the relationships between biology and engineering, and between synthesis and analysis. These themes also illuminate synthetic biology's connections to genetic and other forms of biological engineering, as well as to systems biology. We suggest that all these knowledge-making distinctions in synthetic biology raise fundamental questions about the nature of biological investigation and its relationship to the construction of biological components and systems.
Hörner, Maximilian; Reischmann, Nadine; Weber, Wilfried
The emerging field of synthetic biology is a novel biological discipline at the interface between traditional biology, chemistry, and engineering sciences. Synthetic biology aims at the rational design of complex synthetic biological devices and systems with desired properties by combining compatible, modular biological parts in a systematic manner. While the first engineered systems were mainly proof-of-principle studies to demonstrate the power of the modular engineering approach of synthetic biology, subsequent systems focus on applications in the health, environmental, and energy sectors. This review describes recent approaches for biomedical applications that were developed along the synthetic biology design hierarchy, at the level of individual parts, of devices, and of complex multicellular systems. It describes how synthetic biological parts can be used for the synthesis of drug-delivery tools, how synthetic biological devices can facilitate the discovery of novel drugs, and how multicellular synthetic ecosystems can give insight into population dynamics of parasites and hosts. These examples demonstrate how this new discipline could contribute to novel solutions in the biopharmaceutical industry.
The quality of the satellite orbit determination is rested on the knowledge of perturbing forces acting on the satellite and stochastic properties of the observations, and the ability of controlling various kinds of errors. After a brief discussion on the dynamic and geometric orbit determinations, Sage adaptive filtering and robust filtering are reviewed. A new synthetically adaptive robust filtering based on a combination of robust filtering and Sage filtering is developed. It is shown, by derivations and calculations, that the synthetically adaptive robust filtering for orbit determination is not only robust but also simple in calculation. It controls the effects of the outliers of tracking observations and the satellite dynamical disturbance on the parameter estimates of the satellite orbit.
Yeh, Brian J; Lim, Wendell A
The mid-nineteenth century saw the development of a radical new direction in chemistry: instead of simply analyzing existing molecules, chemists began to synthesize them--including molecules that did not exist in nature. The combination of this new synthetic approach with more traditional analytical approaches revolutionized chemistry, leading to a deep understanding of the fundamental principles of chemical structure and reactivity and to the emergence of the modern pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The history of synthetic chemistry offers a possible roadmap for the development and impact of synthetic biology, a nascent field in which the goal is to build novel biological systems.
Pearson, Brianna; Snell, Sam; Bye-Nagel, Kyri; Tonidandel, Scott; Heyer, Laurie J; Campbell, A Malcolm
Members of the synthetic biology community have discussed the significance of word selection when describing synthetic biology to the general public. In particular, many leaders proposed the word "create" was laden with negative connotations. We found that word choice and framing does affect public perception of synthetic biology. In a controlled experiment, participants perceived synthetic biology more negatively when "create" was used to describe the field compared to "construct" (p = 0.008). Contrary to popular opinion among synthetic biologists, however, low religiosity individuals were more influenced negatively by the framing manipulation than high religiosity people. Our results suggest that synthetic biologists directly influence public perception of their field through avoidance of the word "create".
Full Text Available Abstract Members of the synthetic biology community have discussed the significance of word selection when describing synthetic biology to the general public. In particular, many leaders proposed the word "create" was laden with negative connotations. We found that word choice and framing does affect public perception of synthetic biology. In a controlled experiment, participants perceived synthetic biology more negatively when "create" was used to describe the field compared to "construct" (p = 0.008. Contrary to popular opinion among synthetic biologists, however, low religiosity individuals were more influenced negatively by the framing manipulation than high religiosity people. Our results suggest that synthetic biologists directly influence public perception of their field through avoidance of the word "create".
Baltes, Nicholas J; Voytas, Daniel F
Synthetic biology seeks to create new biological systems, including user-designed plants and plant cells. These systems can be employed for a variety of purposes, ranging from producing compounds of industrial or therapeutic value, to reducing crop losses by altering cellular responses to pathogens or climate change. To realize the full potential of plant synthetic biology, techniques are required that provide control over the genetic code - enabling targeted modifications to DNA sequences within living plant cells. Such control is now within reach owing to recent advances in the use of sequence-specific nucleases to precisely engineer genomes. We discuss here the enormous potential provided by genome engineering for plant synthetic biology.
Oldham, Paul; Hall, Stephen; Burton, Geoff
This article uses data from Thomson Reuters Web of Science to map and analyse the scientific landscape for synthetic biology. The article draws on recent advances in data visualisation and analytics with the aim of informing upcoming international policy debates on the governance of synthetic biology by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. We use mapping techniques to identify how synthetic biology can best be understood and the range of institutions, researchers and funding agencies involved. Debates under the Convention are likely to focus on a possible moratorium on the field release of synthetic organisms, cells or genomes. Based on the empirical evidence we propose that guidance could be provided to funding agencies to respect the letter and spirit of the Convention on Biological Diversity in making research investments. Building on the recommendations of the United States Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues we demonstrate that it is possible to promote independent and transparent monitoring of developments in synthetic biology using modern information tools. In particular, public and policy understanding and engagement with synthetic biology can be enhanced through the use of online interactive tools. As a step forward in this process we make existing data on the scientific literature on synthetic biology available in an online interactive workbook so that researchers, policy makers and civil society can explore the data and draw conclusions for themselves.
Full Text Available This article uses data from Thomson Reuters Web of Science to map and analyse the scientific landscape for synthetic biology. The article draws on recent advances in data visualisation and analytics with the aim of informing upcoming international policy debates on the governance of synthetic biology by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. We use mapping techniques to identify how synthetic biology can best be understood and the range of institutions, researchers and funding agencies involved. Debates under the Convention are likely to focus on a possible moratorium on the field release of synthetic organisms, cells or genomes. Based on the empirical evidence we propose that guidance could be provided to funding agencies to respect the letter and spirit of the Convention on Biological Diversity in making research investments. Building on the recommendations of the United States Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues we demonstrate that it is possible to promote independent and transparent monitoring of developments in synthetic biology using modern information tools. In particular, public and policy understanding and engagement with synthetic biology can be enhanced through the use of online interactive tools. As a step forward in this process we make existing data on the scientific literature on synthetic biology available in an online interactive workbook so that researchers, policy makers and civil society can explore the data and draw conclusions for themselves.
Oldham, Paul; Hall, Stephen; Burton, Geoff
This article uses data from Thomson Reuters Web of Science to map and analyse the scientific landscape for synthetic biology. The article draws on recent advances in data visualisation and analytics with the aim of informing upcoming international policy debates on the governance of synthetic biology by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. We use mapping techniques to identify how synthetic biology can best be understood and the range of institutions, researchers and funding agencies involved. Debates under the Convention are likely to focus on a possible moratorium on the field release of synthetic organisms, cells or genomes. Based on the empirical evidence we propose that guidance could be provided to funding agencies to respect the letter and spirit of the Convention on Biological Diversity in making research investments. Building on the recommendations of the United States Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues we demonstrate that it is possible to promote independent and transparent monitoring of developments in synthetic biology using modern information tools. In particular, public and policy understanding and engagement with synthetic biology can be enhanced through the use of online interactive tools. As a step forward in this process we make existing data on the scientific literature on synthetic biology available in an online interactive workbook so that researchers, policy makers and civil society can explore the data and draw conclusions for themselves. PMID:22539946
This entry aims to clarify how systems and synthetic biology contribute to and extend discussions within philosophy of science. Unlike fields such as developmental biology or molecular biology, systems and synthetic biology are not easily demarcated by a focus on a specific subject area or level...... of organization. Rather, they are characterized by the development and application of mathematical, computational, and synthetic modeling strategies in response to complex problems and challenges within the life sciences. Proponents of systems and synthetic biology often stress the necessity of a perspective...... that goes beyond the scope of molecular biology and genetic engineering, respectively. With the emphasis on systems and interaction networks, the approaches explicitly engage in one of the oldest philosophical discussions on the relationship between parts and wholes, or between reductionism and holism...
Full Text Available Systems biology aims at achieving a system-level understanding of living organisms and applying this knowledge to various fields such as synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and medicine. System-level understanding of living organisms can be derived from insight into: (i system structure and the mechanism of biological networks such as gene regulation, protein interactions, signaling, and metabolic pathways; (ii system dynamics of biological networks, which provides an understanding of stability, robustness, and transduction ability through system identification, and through system analysis methods; (iii system control methods at different levels of biological networks, which provide an understanding of systematic mechanisms to robustly control system states, minimize malfunctions, and provide potential therapeutic targets in disease treatment; (iv systematic design methods for the modification and construction of biological networks with desired behaviors, which provide system design principles and system simulations for synthetic biology designs and systems metabolic engineering. This review describes current developments in systems biology, systems synthetic biology, and systems metabolic engineering for engineering and biology researchers. We also discuss challenges and future prospects for systems biology and the concept of systems biology as an integrated platform for bioinformatics, systems synthetic biology, and systems metabolic engineering.
Chen, Bor-Sen; Wu, Chia-Chou
Systems biology aims at achieving a system-level understanding of living organisms and applying this knowledge to various fields such as synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and medicine. System-level understanding of living organisms can be derived from insight into: (i) system structure and the mechanism of biological networks such as gene regulation, protein interactions, signaling, and metabolic pathways; (ii) system dynamics of biological networks, which provides an understanding of stability, robustness, and transduction ability through system identification, and through system analysis methods; (iii) system control methods at different levels of biological networks, which provide an understanding of systematic mechanisms to robustly control system states, minimize malfunctions, and provide potential therapeutic targets in disease treatment; (iv) systematic design methods for the modification and construction of biological networks with desired behaviors, which provide system design principles and system simulations for synthetic biology designs and systems metabolic engineering. This review describes current developments in systems biology, systems synthetic biology, and systems metabolic engineering for engineering and biology researchers. We also discuss challenges and future prospects for systems biology and the concept of systems biology as an integrated platform for bioinformatics, systems synthetic biology, and systems metabolic engineering. PMID:24709875
Chen, Bor-Sen; Wu, Chia-Chou
Systems biology aims at achieving a system-level understanding of living organisms and applying this knowledge to various fields such as synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and medicine. System-level understanding of living organisms can be derived from insight into: (i) system structure and the mechanism of biological networks such as gene regulation, protein interactions, signaling, and metabolic pathways; (ii) system dynamics of biological networks, which provides an understanding of stability, robustness, and transduction ability through system identification, and through system analysis methods; (iii) system control methods at different levels of biological networks, which provide an understanding of systematic mechanisms to robustly control system states, minimize malfunctions, and provide potential therapeutic targets in disease treatment; (iv) systematic design methods for the modification and construction of biological networks with desired behaviors, which provide system design principles and system simulations for synthetic biology designs and systems metabolic engineering. This review describes current developments in systems biology, systems synthetic biology, and systems metabolic engineering for engineering and biology researchers. We also discuss challenges and future prospects for systems biology and the concept of systems biology as an integrated platform for bioinformatics, systems synthetic biology, and systems metabolic engineering.
Bastardie, F.; Baudron, A.; Bilocca, R.; Boje, J.; Bult, T.P.; Garcia, D.; Hintzen, N.T.
The influence of innovative management alternatives (participatory governance, effort management, decision rules) on biological robustness (BR) in various fisheries relevant to the EU (Baltic, Western Shelf, Faroe Islands, North Sea), was investigated with a numerical simulation model developed in t
Stemerding, D.; Douglas, C.
Synthetic biology is a series of scientific and technological practices involved in the application of engineering principles to the design and production of predictable and robust biological systems. While policy discussions abound in this area, emerging technologies like synthetic biology present
Stemerding, D.; Douglas, C.
Synthetic biology is a series of scientific and technological practices involved in the application of engineering principles to the design and production of predictable and robust biological systems. While policy discussions abound in this area, emerging technologies like synthetic biology present
Frazar, Sarah L.; Hund, Gretchen; Bonheyo, George T.; Diggans, James; Bartholomew, Rachel A.; Gehrig, Lindsey K.; Greaves, Mark T.
In this article, a team of experts in synthetic biology, data analytics, and national security describe the overall supply chain surrounding synthetic biology. The team analyzes selected interactions within that network to better understand the risks raised by synthetic biology and identifies opportunities for risk mitigation. To introduce the concept, the article will briefly describe how an understanding of supply chains has been important in promoting nuclear nonproliferation objectives. The article concludes by assessing the structure and networks identified in the supply chains to reveal potential opportunities for future biodefense research and development; options for additional information exchange; and means to interdict, detect, or deter suspicious activity.
Full Text Available Synthetic biology can be considered a game changer that plays an important role in the current NBIC, or BINC convergence of nano-, bio-, info and cognitive sciences. Although most synthetic biology experts are unaware of it, the field appeals to the imagination in its adherence to targets that were usually associated with premodern alchemist science. This paper elaborates several aspects of synthetic biology as well as its consequences for long held notions of intellectual property and the ontological categories of scientific discovery on the one hand and engineering on the other, the distinction between natural and artificial, the grown and the made.
Kagan, Daniel Robert
The field of synthetic nano/microscale propulsion devices has been rapidly expanding because of their ability to possess many key features necessary for bioanalytical applications on biological microchip devices and targeted in vivo delivery. Past studies focused on developing powerful and easily controllable motors by investigating different propulsion schemes (e.g. electrophoretic, bubble release, magnetically propelled) for use in physiological environments. These engineering advancements and the nanomotors inherit capabilities have allowed for their use in three research areas: motion-based biosensing, cellular and biomolecular isolation, and targeted drug delivery. The first research area investigates a unique speed increase of electrophoretically propelled nanomotors when in the presence of silver ions. Au/Pt nanomotors propel by the electrocatalytic decomposition of H2O2 fuel. While most metal ions resulted in a decrease in speed to near Brownian levels, Ag+ has shown a steady increase in speed from 10microm/s to 52microm/s over the micro-molar range. This phenomenon was exploited by tagging nucleic acid detector probes with Ag nanoparticles when conducting simple sandwich assays. This resulted in a cheap, fast, and sensitive, motion-based readout of the concentration-dependent DNA target present on the sandwich assay. The second area of research involved the bioisolation of nucleic acids, protein, bacteria, and cancer cells by bubble-based microrockets. These microrockets contain a platinum interior to catalyze peroxide fuel and can be easily functionalized with antibodies and nucleic acid capture probes to isolate target biomolecules. The motion of these micro-isolation devices creates convection for faster isolation and can be used to transport the biomolecules to a clean environment. The third area of research is focused on targeted drug delivery by various propulsion methods. The ability of nanomotors to transport PLGA and liposome drug vesicles to
Gurevich, Lilia; Cohen-Luria, Rivka; Wagner, Nathaniel; Ashkenasy, Gonen
A molecular network that mimics circadian clocks from cyanobacteria is constructed in silico. Simulating its oscillatory behaviour under variable conditions reveals its robustness relative to networks of alternative topologies. The principles for synthetic chemical circadian networks to work properly are consequently highlighted.
Valentine, Alex J; Kleinert, Aleysia; Verdier, Jerome
Synthetic biology and nuclear physics share many commonalities in terms of public perception and funding. Synthetic biologists could learn valuable lessons from the history of the atomic bomb and nuclear power.
Braff, Dana; Shis, David; Collins, James J
The growing prevalence of antibiotic resistance calls for new approaches in the development of antimicrobial therapeutics. Likewise, improved diagnostic measures are essential in guiding the application of targeted therapies and preventing the evolution of therapeutic resistance. Discovery platforms are also needed to form new treatment strategies and identify novel antimicrobial agents. By applying engineering principles to molecular biology, synthetic biologists have developed platforms that improve upon, supplement, and will perhaps supplant traditional broad-spectrum antibiotics. Efforts in engineering bacteriophages and synthetic probiotics demonstrate targeted antimicrobial approaches that can be fine-tuned using synthetic biology-derived principles. Further, the development of paper-based, cell-free expression systems holds promise in promoting the clinical translation of molecular biology tools for diagnostic purposes. In this review, we highlight emerging synthetic biology platform technologies that are geared toward the generation of new antimicrobial therapies, diagnostics, and discovery channels. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Full Text Available Systems and synthetic biology can be understood as emerging technosciences. Both are characteristically shaped by promises and visions, a certain logic and function of labelling, specific forms of social organisation, an embedding in specific regimes of funding and innovation as well as a characteristic matrix of orientations within research practice. This characteristic constitution of systems and synthetic biology has fundamental consequences for scientific practice, its analysis and its governance.
Zhao, Huimin; Medema, Marnix H
Standardization is one of the foundational features of modern-day engineering, and the use of standardized parts and processes is a key element that distinguishes bona fide synthetic biology from traditional genetic engineering. Here, we discuss the role of standardization in natural product synthetic biology, focusing on standardization of data on biosynthetic pathways and gene clusters, as well as the role of standardization in the process of biosynthetic gene cluster engineering.
Chen, Guoqiang; Wang, Ying
This paper reviews progresses made in China from 2011 in areas of "Synthetic Biology" supported by State Basic Research 973 Program. Till the end of 2014, 9 "synthetic biology" projects have been initiated with emphasis on "microbial manufactures" with the 973 Funding Program. Combined with the very recent launch of one project on "mammalian cell synthetic biology" and another on "plant synthetic biology", Chinese "synthetic biology" research reflects its focus on "manufactures" while not giving up efforts on "synthetic biology" of complex systems.
Synthetic bioiogy is a ,relatively new fieild of bologlcal research and development that focases on the engineering of genetic molecular machlnes wIth a specific predefined function. Plainly put the newly engineered organism functions as a machine. It can process information. manufature, heal and even diagnose. We just have to engineer It to do so. The famous quote "Biology Is the nanotechnology that works" is currently being put to the test on a worldwide scale. The application of these machines Is theoretically boundless. In laboratories worldwide synthetic biology technologies are being rationally designed to assist in diagnosis or disrupt disease mechnisms. In the not too distant future they are expected to reach the clinical setting. This new field should be distinguished from classic genetic engineering. The latter researches naturalfy found DNA segments via cloning. It is weakly associated with engineering. Synthetic biology focuses on the engineering of molecular biological machines for the benefit of mankind. This is done via synthetic (computer printed) DNA sequences, man-designed or altered in silico. In this article I will briefly introduce synthetic biology, elaborate on the BiobrickFoundation as an independent fast-growing synthetic biology-sharing movement, and report on selected developing applications for medicine.
Smolke, Christina D; Silver, Pamela A
Synthetic biology aims to make the engineering of biology faster and more predictable. In contrast, systems biology focuses on the interaction of myriad components and how these give rise to the dynamic and complex behavior of biological systems. Here, we examine the synergies between these two fields.
Galdzicki, Michal; Clancy, Kevin P; Oberortner, Ernst; Pocock, Matthew; Quinn, Jacqueline Y; Rodriguez, Cesar A; Roehner, Nicholas; Wilson, Mandy L; Adam, Laura; Anderson, J Christopher; Bartley, Bryan A; Beal, Jacob; Chandran, Deepak; Chen, Joanna; Densmore, Douglas; Endy, Drew; Grünberg, Raik; Hallinan, Jennifer; Hillson, Nathan J; Johnson, Jeffrey D; Kuchinsky, Allan; Lux, Matthew; Misirli, Goksel; Peccoud, Jean; Plahar, Hector A; Sirin, Evren; Stan, Guy-Bart; Villalobos, Alan; Wipat, Anil; Gennari, John H; Myers, Chris J; Sauro, Herbert M
The re-use of previously validated designs is critical to the evolution of synthetic biology from a research discipline to an engineering practice. Here we describe the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL), a proposed data standard for exchanging designs within the synthetic biology community. SBOL represents synthetic biology designs in a community-driven, formalized format for exchange between software tools, research groups and commercial service providers. The SBOL Developers Group has implemented SBOL as an XML/RDF serialization and provides software libraries and specification documentation to help developers implement SBOL in their own software. We describe early successes, including a demonstration of the utility of SBOL for information exchange between several different software tools and repositories from both academic and industrial partners. As a community-driven standard, SBOL will be updated as synthetic biology evolves to provide specific capabilities for different aspects of the synthetic biology workflow.
Kis, Zoltán; Pereira, Hugo Sant'Ana; Homma, Takayuki; Pedrigi, Ryan M; Krams, Rob
In this review, we discuss new emerging medical applications of the rapidly evolving field of mammalian synthetic biology. We start with simple mammalian synthetic biological components and move towards more complex and therapy-oriented gene circuits. A comprehensive list of ON-OFF switches, categorized into transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational and post-translational, is presented in the first sections. Subsequently, Boolean logic gates, synthetic mammalian oscillators and toggle switches will be described. Several synthetic gene networks are further reviewed in the medical applications section, including cancer therapy gene circuits, immuno-regulatory networks, among others. The final sections focus on the applicability of synthetic gene networks to drug discovery, drug delivery, receptor-activating gene circuits and mammalian biomanufacturing processes. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Liu, Di; Hoynes-O'Connor, Allison; Zhang, Fuzhong
Systems biology is an inter-disciplinary science that studies the complex interactions and the collective behavior of a cell or an organism. Synthetic biology, as a technological subject, combines biological science and engineering, allowing the design and manipulation of a system for certain applications. Both systems and synthetic biology have played important roles in the recent development of microbial platforms for energy, materials, and environmental applications. More importantly, systems biology provides the knowledge necessary for the development of synthetic biology tools, which in turn facilitates the manipulation and understanding of complex biological systems. Thus, the combination of systems and synthetic biology has huge potential for studying and engineering microbes, especially to perform advanced tasks, such as producing biofuels. Although there have been very few studies in integrating systems and synthetic biology, existing examples have demonstrated great power in extending microbiological capabilities. This review focuses on recent efforts in microbiological genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, aiming to fill the gap between systems and synthetic biology.
Copyright. Published XXXX by the American Chemical Society A DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00256 ACS Synth. Biol. XXXX, XXX , XXX − XXX comprehensive toolkit...generation of synthetic biology chassis. ACS Synthetic Biology Viewpoint DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00256 ACS Synth. Biol. XXXX, XXX , XXX − XXX B Geobacillus...species genetic circuits and pathways. Nat. Commun. 6, 7832. ACS Synthetic Biology Viewpoint DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00256 ACS Synth. Biol. XXXX, XXX
Mathur, Melina; Xiang, Joy S; Smolke, Christina D
Synthetic biology is advancing the design of genetic devices that enable the study of cellular and molecular biology in mammalian cells. These genetic devices use diverse regulatory mechanisms to both examine cellular processes and achieve precise and dynamic control of cellular phenotype. Synthetic biology tools provide novel functionality to complement the examination of natural cell systems, including engineered molecules with specific activities and model systems that mimic complex regulatory processes. Continued development of quantitative standards and computational tools will expand capacities to probe cellular mechanisms with genetic devices to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the cell. In this study, we review synthetic biology tools that are being applied to effectively investigate diverse cellular processes, regulatory networks, and multicellular interactions. We also discuss current challenges and future developments in the field that may transform the types of investigation possible in cell biology. © 2017 Mathur et al.
Guzmán-Trampe, Silvia; Ceapa, Corina D; Manzo-Ruiz, Monserrat; Sánchez, Sergio
The emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogen microorganisms is problematic in the context of the current spectrum of available medication. The poor specificity and the high toxicity of some available molecules have made imperative the search for new strategies to improve the specificity and to pursue the discovery of novel compounds with increased bioactivity. Using living cells as platforms, synthetic biology has counteracted this problem by offering novel pathways to create synthetic systems with improved and desired functions. Among many other biotechnological approaches, the advances in synthetic biology have made it possible to design and construct novel biological systems in order to look for new drugs with increased bioactivity. Advancements have also been made in the redesigning of RNA and DNA molecules in order to engineer antibiotic clusters for antibiotic overexpression. As for the production of these antibacterial compounds, yeasts and filamentous fungi as well as gene therapy are utilized to enhance protein solubility. Specific delivery is achieved by creating chimeras using plant genes into bacterial hosts. Some of these synthetic systems are currently in clinical trials, proving the proficiency of synthetic biology in terms of both pharmacological activities as well as an increase in the biosafety of treatments. It is possible that we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg, and synthetic biology applications will overpass expectations beyond our present knowledge. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Teo, Jonathan J Y; Woo, Sung Sik; Sarpeshkar, Rahul
We review the field of synthetic biology from an analog circuits and analog computation perspective, focusing on circuits that have been built in living cells. This perspective is well suited to pictorially, symbolically, and quantitatively representing the nonlinear, dynamic, and stochastic (noisy) ordinary and partial differential equations that rigorously describe the molecular circuits of synthetic biology. This perspective enables us to construct a canonical analog circuit schematic that helps unify and review the operation of many fundamental circuits that have been built in synthetic biology at the DNA, RNA, protein, and small-molecule levels over nearly two decades. We review 17 circuits in the literature as particular examples of feedforward and feedback analog circuits that arise from special topological cases of the canonical analog circuit schematic. Digital circuit operation of these circuits represents a special case of saturated analog circuit behavior and is automatically incorporated as well. Many issues that have prevented synthetic biology from scaling are naturally represented in analog circuit schematics. Furthermore, the deep similarity between the Boltzmann thermodynamic equations that describe noisy electronic current flow in subthreshold transistors and noisy molecular flux in biochemical reactions has helped map analog circuit motifs in electronics to analog circuit motifs in cells and vice versa via a `cytomorphic' approach. Thus, a body of knowledge in analog electronic circuit design, analysis, simulation, and implementation may also be useful in the robust and efficient design of molecular circuits in synthetic biology, helping it to scale to more complex circuits in the future.
The principal existing real-world application of synthetic biology is biofuels. Several 'next generation biofuel' companies-Synthetic Genomics, Amyris and Joule Unlimited Technologies-claim to be using synthetic biology to make biofuels. The irony of this is that highly advanced science and engineering serves the very mundane and familiar realm of transport. Despite their rather prosaic nature, biofuels could offer an interesting way to highlight the novelty of synthetic biology from several angles at once. Drawing on the French philosopher of technology and biology Gilbert Simondon, we can understand biofuels as technical objects whose genesis involves processes of concretisation that negotiate between heterogeneous geographical, biological, technical, scientific and commercial realities. Simondon's notion of technicity, the degree of concretisation of a technical object, usefully conceptualises this relationality. Viewed in terms of technicity, we might understand better how technical entities, elements, and ensembles are coming into being in the name of synthetic biology. The broader argument here is that when we seek to identify the newness of disciplines, their newness might be less epistemic and more logistic. Crown Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Synthetic biology can combine the disciplines of biology, engineering, and chemistry productively to form molecules of great scientific and commercial value. Recent advances in the new field are explored for their connection to new tools that have been used to elucidate productio...
Synthetic biology can combine the disciplines of biology, engineering, and chemistry productively to form molecules of great scientific and commercial value. Recent advances in the new field are explored for their connection to new tools that have been used to elucidate productio...
Dehli, Tore; Solem, Christian; Jensen, Peter Ruhdal
Synthetic and systems biologists need standardized, modular and orthogonal tools yielding predictable functions in vivo. In systems biology such tools are needed to quantitatively analyze the behavior of biological systems while the efficient engineering of artificial gene networks is central...... in synthetic biology. A number of tools exist to manipulate the steps in between gene sequence and functional protein in living cells, but out of these the most straight-forward approach is to alter the gene expression level by manipulating the promoter sequence. Some of the promoter tuning tools available...
Dehli, Tore; Solem, Christian; Jensen, Peter Ruhdal
in synthetic biology. A number of tools exist to manipulate the steps in between gene sequence and functional protein in living cells, but out of these the most straight-forward approach is to alter the gene expression level by manipulating the promoter sequence. Some of the promoter tuning tools available......Synthetic and systems biologists need standardized, modular and orthogonal tools yielding predictable functions in vivo. In systems biology such tools are needed to quantitatively analyze the behavior of biological systems while the efficient engineering of artificial gene networks is central...
Church, George M; Elowitz, Michael B; Smolke, Christina D; Voigt, Christopher A; Weiss, Ron
Synthetic biology, despite still being in its infancy, is increasingly providing valuable information for applications in the clinic, the biotechnology industry and in basic molecular research. Both its unique potential and the challenges it presents have brought together the expertise of an eclectic group of scientists, from cell biologists to engineers. In this Viewpoint article, five experts discuss their views on the future of synthetic biology, on its main achievements in basic and applied science, and on the bioethical issues that are associated with the design of new biological systems.
Jefferson, Catherine; Lentzos, Filippa; Marris, Claire
Synthetic biology, a field that aims to "make biology easier to engineer," is routinely described as leading to an increase in the "dual-use" threat, i.e., the potential for the same scientific research to be "used" for peaceful purposes or "misused" for warfare or terrorism. Fears have been expressed that the "de-skilling" of biology, combined with online access to the genomic DNA sequences of pathogenic organisms and the reduction in price for DNA synthesis, will make biology increasingly accessible to people operating outside well-equipped professional research laboratories, including people with malevolent intentions. The emergence of do-it-yourself (DIY) biology communities and of the student iGEM competition has come to epitomize this supposed trend toward greater ease of access and the associated potential threat from rogue actors. In this article, we identify five "myths" that permeate discussions about synthetic biology and biosecurity, and argue that they embody misleading assumptions about both synthetic biology and bioterrorism. We demonstrate how these myths are challenged by more realistic understandings of the scientific research currently being conducted in both professional and DIY laboratories, and by an analysis of historical cases of bioterrorism. We show that the importance of tacit knowledge is commonly overlooked in the dominant narrative: the focus is on access to biological materials and digital information, rather than on human practices and institutional dimensions. As a result, public discourse on synthetic biology and biosecurity tends to portray speculative scenarios about the future as realities in the present or the near future, when this is not warranted. We suggest that these "myths" play an important role in defining synthetic biology as a "promissory" field of research and as an "emerging technology" in need of governance.
Full Text Available Chemical synthetic biology (CSB is a branch of synthetic biology (SB oriented towards the synthesis of chemical structures alternative to those present in nature. Whereas SB combines biology and engineering with the aim of synthesizing biological structures or life forms that do not exist in nature – often based on genome manipulation, CSB uses and assembles biological parts, synthetic or not, to create new and alternative structures. A short epistemological note will introduce the theoretical concepts related to these fields, whereas the text will be largely devoted to introduce and comment two main projects of CSB, carried out in our laboratory in the recent years.The Never Born Biopolymers (NBB project deals with the construction and the screening of RNA and peptide sequences that are not present in nature, whereas the Minimal Cell project focuses on the construction of semi-synthetic compartments (usually liposomes containing the minimal and sufficient number of components to perform the basic function of a biological cell.These two topics are extremely important for both the general understanding of biology in terms of function, organization and development, and for applied biotechnology.
Kim, Eunji; Moore, Bradley S; Yoon, Yeo Joon
Natural products continue to play a pivotal role in drug-discovery efforts and in the understanding if human health. The ability to extend nature's chemistry through combinatorial biosynthesis--altering functional groups, regiochemistry and scaffold backbones through the manipulation of biosynthetic enzymes--offers unique opportunities to create natural product analogs. Incorporating emerging synthetic biology techniques has the potential to further accelerate the refinement of combinatorial biosynthesis as a robust platform for the diversification of natural chemical drug leads. Two decades after the field originated, we discuss the current limitations, the realities and the state of the art of combinatorial biosynthesis, including the engineering of substrate specificity of biosynthetic enzymes and the development of heterologous expression systems for biosynthetic pathways. We also propose a new perspective for the combinatorial biosynthesis of natural products that could reinvigorate drug discovery by using synthetic biology in combination with synthetic chemistry.
Synthetic biology promises to create high-impact solutions to challenges in the areas of biotechnology, human/animal health, the environment, energy, materials and food security. Equally, synthetic biologists create tools and strategies that have the potential to help us answer important fundamental questions in biology. Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology (WISB) pursues both of these mutually complementary 'build to apply' and 'build to understand' approaches. This is reflected in our research structure, in which a core theme on predictive biosystems engineering develops underpinning understanding as well as next-generation experimental/theoretical tools, and these are then incorporated into three applied themes in which we engineer biosynthetic pathways, microbial communities and microbial effector systems in plants. WISB takes a comprehensive approach to training, education and outreach. For example, WISB is a partner in the EPSRC/BBSRC-funded U.K. Doctoral Training Centre in synthetic biology, we have developed a new undergraduate module in the subject, and we have established five WISB Research Career Development Fellowships to support young group leaders. Research in Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects (ELSA) of synthetic biology is embedded in our centre activities. WISB has been highly proactive in building an international research and training network that includes partners in Barcelona, Boston, Copenhagen, Madrid, Marburg, São Paulo, Tartu and Valencia.
Harris, D Calvin; Jewett, Michael C
Just as synthetic organic chemistry once revolutionized the ability of chemists to build molecules (including those that did not exist in nature) following a basic set of design rules, cell-free synthetic biology is beginning to provide an improved toolbox and faster process for not only harnessing but also expanding the chemistry of life. At the interface between chemistry and biology, research in cell-free synthetic systems is proceeding in two different directions: using synthetic biology for synthetic chemistry and using synthetic chemistry to reprogram or mimic biology. In the coming years, the impact of advances inspired by these approaches will make possible the synthesis of nonbiological polymers having new backbone compositions, new chemical properties, new structures, and new functions.
Goñi-Moreno, Angel; Wipat, Anil; Krasnogor, Natalio
The Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy (CSBB) brings together a far-reaching multidisciplinary community across all Newcastle University's faculties - Medical Sciences, Science, Agriculture and Engineering, and Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. The CSBB focuses on many different areas of Synthetic Biology, including bioprocessing, computational design and in vivo computation, as well as improving understanding of basic molecular machinery. Such breadth is supported by major national and international research funding, a range of industrial partners in the North East of England and beyond, as well as a large number of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. The CSBB trains the next generation of scientists through a 1-year MSc in Synthetic Biology. © 2017 The Author(s).
Renda, Brian A; Hammerling, Michael J; Barrick, Jeffrey E
The field of synthetic biology seeks to engineer reliable and predictable behaviors in organisms from collections of standardized genetic parts. However, unlike other types of machines, genetically encoded biological systems are prone to changes in their designed sequences due to mutations in their DNA sequences after these devices are constructed and deployed. Thus, biological engineering efforts can be confounded by undesired evolution that rapidly breaks the functions of parts and systems, particularly when they are costly to the host cell to maintain. Here, we explain the fundamental properties that determine the evolvability of biological systems. Then, we use this framework to review current efforts to engineer the DNA sequences that encode synthetic biology devices and the genomes of their microbial hosts to reduce their ability to evolve and therefore increase their genetic reliability so that they maintain their intended functions over longer timescales.
James Michael Whitacre
Full Text Available Robustness has been studied through the analysis of data sets, simulations, and a variety of experimental techniques that each have their own limitations but together confirm the ubiquity of biological robustness. Recent trends suggest that different types of perturbation (e.g. mutational, environmental are commonly stabilized by similar mechanisms, and system sensitivities often display a long-tailed distribution with relatively few perturbations representing the majority of sensitivities. Conceptual paradigms from network theory, control theory, complexity science, and natural selection have been used to understand robustness, however each paradigm has a limited scope of applicability and there has been little discussion of the conditions that determine this scope or the relationships between paradigms. Systems properties such as modularity, bow-tie architectures, degeneracy, and other topological features are often positively associated with robust traits, however common underlying mechanisms are rarely mentioned. For instance, many system properties support robustness through functional redundancy or through response diversity with responses regulated by competitive exclusion and cooperative facilitation. Moreover, few studies compare and contrast alternative strategies for achieving robustness such as homeostasis, adaptive plasticity, environment shaping, and environment tracking. These strategies share similarities in their utilization of adaptive and self-organization processes that are not well appreciated yet might be suggestive of reusable building blocks for generating robust behavior.
Full Text Available Microbial polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA have been produced as bioplastics for various purposes. Under the support of China National Basic Research 973 Project, we developed synthetic biology methods to diversify the PHA structures into homo-, random, block polymers with improved properties to better meet various application requirements. At the same time, various pathways were assembled to produce various PHA from glucose as a simple carbon source. At the end, Halomonas bacteria were reconstructed to produce PHA in changing morphology for low cost production under unsterile and continuous conditions. The synthetic biology will advance the PHA into a bio- and material industry.
Vicente Bellver Capella
Full Text Available The paper considers three questions with the goal of improving the proposals about the governance and regulation of Synthetic Biology. First, it looks at the relationship between some of the breakthroughs in this field and the public interest in the matter. Second, it is mentioned the international regulation on this topic and particularly the principles that inform and should inform this matter. Third, a critical consideration on the reports devoted to the ethical and social aspects of Synthetic Biology is included.
Bergmann Frank T
Full Text Available Abstract Background Synthetic biology brings together concepts and techniques from engineering and biology. In this field, computer-aided design (CAD is necessary in order to bridge the gap between computational modeling and biological data. Using a CAD application, it would be possible to construct models using available biological "parts" and directly generate the DNA sequence that represents the model, thus increasing the efficiency of design and construction of synthetic networks. Results An application named TinkerCell has been developed in order to serve as a CAD tool for synthetic biology. TinkerCell is a visual modeling tool that supports a hierarchy of biological parts. Each part in this hierarchy consists of a set of attributes that define the part, such as sequence or rate constants. Models that are constructed using these parts can be analyzed using various third-party C and Python programs that are hosted by TinkerCell via an extensive C and Python application programming interface (API. TinkerCell supports the notion of a module, which are networks with interfaces. Such modules can be connected to each other, forming larger modular networks. TinkerCell is a free and open-source project under the Berkeley Software Distribution license. Downloads, documentation, and tutorials are available at http://www.tinkercell.com. Conclusion An ideal CAD application for engineering biological systems would provide features such as: building and simulating networks, analyzing robustness of networks, and searching databases for components that meet the design criteria. At the current state of synthetic biology, there are no established methods for measuring robustness or identifying components that fit a design. The same is true for databases of biological parts. TinkerCell's flexible modeling framework allows it to cope with changes in the field. Such changes may involve the way parts are characterized or the way synthetic networks are modeled
Tyagi, Ashish; Kumar, Ashwani; Aparna, S V; Mallappa, Rashmi H; Grover, Sunita; Batish, Virender Kumar
Synthetic biology also termed as "genomic alchemy" represents a powerful area of science that is based on the convergence of biological sciences with systems engineering. It has been fittingly described as "moving from reading the genetic code to writing it" as it focuses on building, modeling, designing and fabricating novel biological systems using customized gene components that result in artificially created genetic circuitry. The scientifically compelling idea of the technological manipulation of life has been advocated since long time. Realization of this idea has gained momentum with development of high speed automation and the falling cost of gene sequencing and synthesis following the completion of the human genome project. Synthetic biology will certainly be instrumental in shaping the development of varying areas ranging from biomedicine, biopharmaceuticals, chemical production, food and dairy quality monitoring, packaging, and storage of food and dairy products, bioremediation and bioenergy production, etc. However, potential dangers of using synthetic life forms have to be acknowledged and adoption of policies by the scientific community to ensure safe practice while making important advancements in the ever expanding field of synthetic biology is to be fully supported and implemented.
Glass, Leon; Siegelmann, Hava T
Logical models provide insight about key control elements of biological networks. Based solely on the logical structure, we can determine state transition diagrams that give the allowed possible transitions in a coarse grained phase space. Attracting pathways and stable nodes in the state transition diagram correspond to robust attractors that would be found in several different types of dynamical systems that have the same logical structure. Attracting nodes in the state transition diagram correspond to stable steady states. Furthermore, the sequence of logical states appearing in biological networks with robust attracting pathways would be expected to appear also in Boolean networks, asynchronous switching networks, and differential equations having the same underlying structure. This provides a basis for investigating naturally occurring and synthetic systems, both to predict the dynamics if the structure is known, and to determine the structure if the transitions are known.
Behrendorff, James Bruce Yarnton H; Gillam, Elizabeth M.J.
The 30 years since the inception of Chemical Research in Toxicology, game-changing advances in chemical and molecular biology, the fundamental disciplines underpinning molecular toxicology, have been made. While these have led to important advances in the study of mechanisms by which chemicals...... damage cells and systems, there has been less focus on applying these advances to prediction, detection, and mitigation of toxicity. Over the last ∼15 years, synthetic biology, the repurposing of biological "parts" in systems engineered for useful ends, has been explored in other areas of the biomedical...... and life sciences, for such applications as detecting metabolites, drug discovery and delivery, investigating disease mechanisms, improving medical treatment, and producing useful chemicals. These examples provide models for the application of synthetic biology to toxicology, which, for the most part, has...
Zhao, Huimin; Medema, Marnix H.
Standardization is one of the foundational features of modern-day engineering, and the use of standardized parts and processes is a key element that distinguishes bona fide synthetic biology from traditional genetic engineering. Here, we discuss the role of standardization in natural product
Breitling, Rainer; Takano, Eriko
Synthetic biology enables a new generation of microbial engineering for the biotechnological production of pharmaceuticals and other high-value chemicals. This review presents an overview of recent advances in the field, describing new computational and experimental tools for the discovery, optimization and production of bioactive molecules, and outlining progress towards the application of these tools to pharmaceutical production systems. PMID:25744872
Gorochowski, Thomas E
Biological systems exhibit complex behaviours that emerge at many different levels of organization. These span the regulation of gene expression within single cells to the use of quorum sensing to co-ordinate the action of entire bacterial colonies. Synthetic biology aims to make the engineering of biology easier, offering an opportunity to control natural systems and develop new synthetic systems with useful prescribed behaviours. However, in many cases, it is not understood how individual cells should be programmed to ensure the emergence of a required collective behaviour. Agent-based modelling aims to tackle this problem, offering a framework in which to simulate such systems and explore cellular design rules. In this article, I review the use of agent-based models in synthetic biology, outline the available computational tools, and provide details on recently engineered biological systems that are amenable to this approach. I further highlight the challenges facing this methodology and some of the potential future directions. © 2016 The Author(s).
Collier, C Patrick; Simpson, Michael L
A better understanding of how confinement, crowding and reduced dimensionality modulate reactivity and reaction dynamics will aid in the rational and systematic discovery of functionality in complex biological systems. Artificial microfabricated and nanofabricated structures have helped elucidate the effects of nanoscale spatial confinement and segregation on biological behavior, particularly when integrated with microfluidics, through precise control in both space and time of diffusible signals and binding interactions. Examples of nanostructured interfaces for synthetic biology include the development of cell-like compartments for encapsulating biochemical reactions, nanostructured environments for fundamental studies of diffusion, molecular transport and biochemical reaction kinetics, and regulation of biomolecular interactions as functions of microfabricated and nanofabricated topological constraints.
Padilla-Vaca, Felipe; Anaya-Velázquez, Fernando; Franco, Bernardo
In the past twenty years, molecular genetics has created powerful tools for genetic manipulation of living organisms. Whole genome sequencing has provided necessary information to assess knowledge on gene function and protein networks. In addition, new tools permit to modify organisms to perform desired tasks. Gene function analysis is speed up by novel approaches that couple both high throughput data generation and mining. Synthetic biology is an emerging field that uses tools for generating novel gene networks, whole genome synthesis and engineering. New applications in biotechnological, pharmaceutical and biomedical research are envisioned for synthetic biology. In recent years these new strategies have opened up the possibilities to study gene and genome editing, creation of novel tools for functional studies in virus, parasites and pathogenic bacteria. There is also the possibility to re-design organisms to generate vaccine subunits or produce new pharmaceuticals to combat multi-drug resistant pathogens. In this review we provide our opinion on the applicability of synthetic biology strategies for functional studies of pathogenic organisms and some applications such as genome editing and gene network studies to further comprehend virulence factors and determinants in pathogenic organisms. We also discuss what we consider important ethical issues for this field of molecular biology, especially for potential misuse of the new technologies. Copyright© by the Spanish Society for Microbiology and Institute for Catalan Studies.
Full Text Available Synthetic Biology has a huge capacity for the transformation of living beings, including for the transformation of the human genome in a future perhaps not too distant. There are, thus, clear connections between this potential to biological transformation and the aspirations of the supporters of human bioenhancement. The construction of completely synthetic genomes could eventually change in a definitive and irreversible way the central aspects of the human life, and it could give risen even to a new organism as different of our species as we are different of big apes. This paper discusses the main arguments offered in this debate, and points out some of the most problematic assumptions in recent proposals concerning human bioenhancement.
Full Text Available The current trend of burn wound care has shifted to more holistic approach of improvement in the long-term form and function of the healed burn wounds and quality of life. This has demanded the emergence of various skin substitutes in the management of acute burn injury as well as post burn reconstructions. Skin substitutes have important roles in the treatment of deep dermal and full thickness wounds of various aetiologies. At present, there is no ideal substitute in the market. Skin substitutes can be divided into two main classes, namely, biological and synthetic substitutes. The biological skin substitutes have a more intact extracellular matrix structure, while the synthetic skin substitutes can be synthesised on demand and can be modulated for specific purposes. Each class has its advantages and disadvantages. The biological skin substitutes may allow the construction of a more natural new dermis and allow excellent re-epithelialisation characteristics due to the presence of a basement membrane. Synthetic skin substitutes demonstrate the advantages of increase control over scaffold composition. The ultimate goal is to achieve an ideal skin substitute that provides an effective and scar-free wound healing.
Thuronyi, Benjamin W; Chang, Michelle C Y
The catalytic diversity of living systems offers a broad range of opportunities for developing new methods to produce small molecule targets such as fuels, materials, and pharmaceuticals. In addition to providing cost-effective and renewable methods for large-scale commercial processes, the exploration of the unusual chemical phenotypes found in living organisms can also enable the expansion of chemical space for discovery of novel function by combining orthogonal attributes from both synthetic and biological chemistry. In this context, we have focused on the development of new fluorine chemistry using synthetic biology approaches. While fluorine has become an important feature in compounds of synthetic origin, the scope of biological fluorine chemistry in living systems is limited, with fewer than 20 organofluorine natural products identified to date. In order to expand the diversity of biosynthetically accessible organofluorines, we have begun to develop methods for the site-selective introduction of fluorine into complex natural products by engineering biosynthetic machinery to incorporate fluorinated building blocks. To gain insight into how both enzyme active sites and metabolic pathways can be evolved to manage and select for fluorinated compounds, we have studied one of the only characterized natural hosts for organofluorine biosynthesis, the soil microbe Streptomyces cattleya. This information provides a template for designing engineered organofluorine enzymes, pathways, and hosts and has allowed us to initiate construction of enzymatic and cellular pathways for the production of fluorinated polyketides.
Full Text Available Jean-Yves Trosset,1 Pablo Carbonell2,3 1Bioinformation Research Laboratory, Sup’Biotech, Villejuif, France; 2Faculty of Life Sciences, SYNBIOCHEM Centre, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; 3Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS, Research Programme on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF, Barcelona, Spain Abstract: Synthetic biology (SB is an emerging discipline, which is slowly reorienting the field of drug discovery. For thousands of years, living organisms such as plants were the major source of human medicines. The difficulty in resynthesizing natural products, however, often turned pharmaceutical industries away from this rich source for human medicine. More recently, progress on transformation through genetic manipulation of biosynthetic units in microorganisms has opened the possibility of in-depth exploration of the large chemical space of natural products derivatives. Success of SB in drug synthesis culminated with the bioproduction of artemisinin by microorganisms, a tour de force in protein and metabolic engineering. Today, synthetic cells are not only used as biofactories but also used as cell-based screening platforms for both target-based and phenotypic-based approaches. Engineered genetic circuits in synthetic cells are also used to decipher disease mechanisms or drug mechanism of actions and to study cell–cell communication within bacteria consortia. This review presents latest developments of SB in the field of drug discovery, including some challenging issues such as drug resistance and drug toxicity. Keywords: metabolic engineering, plant synthetic biology, natural products, synthetic quorum sensing, drug resistance
... HUMAN SERVICES Request for Comments on Synthetic Biology AGENCY: Department of Health and Human Services... public comment on the emerging science of synthetic biology, including its potential applications and... synthetic biology. The President asked the Commission to address this topic on May 20, 2010, following...
Gong, Fuyu; Cai, Zhen; Li, Yin
Recycling of carbon dioxide (CO2) into fuels and chemicals is a potential approach to reduce CO2 emission and fossil-fuel consumption. Autotrophic microbes can utilize energy from light, hydrogen, or sulfur to assimilate atmospheric CO2 into organic compounds at ambient temperature and pressure. This provides a feasible way for biological production of fuels and chemicals from CO2 under normal conditions. Recently great progress has been made in this research area, and dozens of CO2-derived fuels and chemicals have been reported to be synthesized by autotrophic microbes. This is accompanied by investigations into natural CO2-fixation pathways and the rapid development of new technologies in synthetic biology. This review first summarizes the six natural CO2-fixation pathways reported to date, followed by an overview of recent progress in the design and engineering of CO2-fixation pathways as well as energy supply patterns using the concept and tools of synthetic biology. Finally, we will discuss future prospects in biological fixation of CO2.
In this article I discuss the ethics of synthetic biology from a broadly deontological perspective, evaluating its morality in terms of the integrity of nature, the dignity of life and the relationship between God and his creation. Most ethical analyses to date have been largely consequentialist in nature; they reveal a dual use dilemma, showing that synbio has potential for great good and great evil, possibly more so than any step humanity has taken before. A deontological analysis may help to resolve this dilemma, by evaluating whether synbio is right or wrong in itself. I also assess whether deontology alone is a sufficient methodological paradigm for the proper evaluation of synbio ethics.
Li, Xin-Xin; Liu, Qi; Liu, Xiao-Meng; Shi, Hao-Wen; Chen, San-feng
Background Nitrogen fixation has been established in protokaryotic model Escherichia coli by transferring a minimal nif gene cluster composed of 9 genes (nifB, nifH, nifD, nifK, nifE, nifN, nifX, hesA and nifV) from Paenibacillus sp. WLY78. However, the nitrogenase activity in the recombinant E. coli 78-7 is only 10 % of that observed in wild-type Paenibacillus. Thus, it is necessary to increase nitrogenase activity through synthetic biology. Results In order to increase nitrogenase activity ...
Trosset, Jean-Yves; Carbonell, Pablo
Synthetic biology (SB) is an emerging discipline, which is slowly reorienting the field of drug discovery. For thousands of years, living organisms such as plants were the major source of human medicines. The difficulty in resynthesizing natural products, however, often turned pharmaceutical industries away from this rich source for human medicine. More recently, progress on transformation through genetic manipulation of biosynthetic units in microorganisms has opened the possibility of in-depth exploration of the large chemical space of natural products derivatives. Success of SB in drug synthesis culminated with the bioproduction of artemisinin by microorganisms, a tour de force in protein and metabolic engineering. Today, synthetic cells are not only used as biofactories but also used as cell-based screening platforms for both target-based and phenotypic-based approaches. Engineered genetic circuits in synthetic cells are also used to decipher disease mechanisms or drug mechanism of actions and to study cell-cell communication within bacteria consortia. This review presents latest developments of SB in the field of drug discovery, including some challenging issues such as drug resistance and drug toxicity.
The only biological treatments recognized and reimbursed for spondylarthritis in Switzerland are anti TNF. Other effective agents in rheumatoid arthritis were found to be of little use in this indication. Fortunately, in recent years appeared biological molecules blocking cytokines involved in new pathways of inflammation in particular that of IL7. They have been very effective against psoriasis and have a high potential in psoriatic arthritis and spondylarthritis. In parallel, synthetic small molecules capable of modulating the production of intracellular cytokines begin to be marketed. They also are potentially active in the same rheumatic diseases. The purpose of this article is to review these new drugs, in particular to review the progress of their development and commercialization status.
Raimbault, Benjamin; Cointet, Jean-Philippe; Joly, Pierre-Benoît
In this paper, we apply an original scientometric analyses to a corpus comprising synthetic biology (SynBio) publications in Thomson Reuters Web of Science to characterize the emergence of this new scientific field. Three results were drawn from this empirical investigation. First, despite the exponential growth of publications, the study of population level statistics (newcomers proportion, collaboration network structure) shows that SynBio has entered a stabilization process since 2010. Second, the mapping of textual and citational networks shows that SynBio is characterized by high heterogeneity and four different approaches: the central approach, where biobrick engineering is the most widespread; genome engineering; protocell creation; and metabolic engineering. We suggest that synthetic biology acts as an umbrella term allowing for the mobilization of resources, and also serves to relate scientific content and promises of applications. Third, we observed a strong intertwinement between epistemic and socio-economic dynamics. Measuring scientific production and impact and using structural analysis data, we identified a core set of mostly American scientists. Biographical analysis shows that these central and influential scientists act as "boundary spanners," meaning that their importance to the field lies not only in their academic contributions, but also in their capacity to interact with other social spaces that are outside the academic sphere.
In this paper, we apply an original scientometric analyses to a corpus comprising synthetic biology (SynBio) publications in Thomson Reuters Web of Science to characterize the emergence of this new scientific field. Three results were drawn from this empirical investigation. First, despite the exponential growth of publications, the study of population level statistics (newcomers proportion, collaboration network structure) shows that SynBio has entered a stabilization process since 2010. Second, the mapping of textual and citational networks shows that SynBio is characterized by high heterogeneity and four different approaches: the central approach, where biobrick engineering is the most widespread; genome engineering; protocell creation; and metabolic engineering. We suggest that synthetic biology acts as an umbrella term allowing for the mobilization of resources, and also serves to relate scientific content and promises of applications. Third, we observed a strong intertwinement between epistemic and socio-economic dynamics. Measuring scientific production and impact and using structural analysis data, we identified a core set of mostly American scientists. Biographical analysis shows that these central and influential scientists act as “boundary spanners,” meaning that their importance to the field lies not only in their academic contributions, but also in their capacity to interact with other social spaces that are outside the academic sphere. PMID:27611324
Bajpayee, Abhishek; Techet, Alexandra
We present novel processing techniques which allow for robust 4 camera 3D synthetic aperture (SA) PIV. These pre and post processing techniques, applied to raw images and reconstructed volumes, significantly improve SA reconstruction SNR values and consequently allow for accurate SAPIV velocity fields. SA, or light field, PIV has typically required 8 or 9 cameras in order to achieve high reconstruction quality and velocity field reconstruction quality values, Q and Qv respectively. This is primarily because the effective signal to noise ratio (SNR) of refocused images, when using traditional multiplicative or additive refocusing techniques, increases with the number of cameras being used. However, tomographic reconstruction (used with TomoPIV), is able to achieve relatively high SNR reconstructions using 4 or 5 cameras owing to its iterative but significantly more computationally expensive algorithm. Our processing techniques facilitate better recovery of relevant information in SA reconstructions using only 4 views. As a result, we no longer have to trade setup cost and complexity (number of cameras) for computational speed of the reconstruction algorithm.
Synthetic biology is a dynamic, young, ambitious, attractive, and heterogeneous scientific discipline. It is constantly developing and changing, which makes societal evaluation of this emerging new science a challenging task, prone to misunderstandings. Synthetic biology is difficult to capture, and confusion arises not only regarding which part of synthetic biology the discussion is about, but also with respect to the underlying concepts in use. This book offers a useful toolbox to approach this complex and fragmented field. It provides a biological access to the discussion using a 'layer' model that describes the connectivity of synthetic or semisynthetic organisms and cells to the realm of natural organisms derived by evolution. Instead of directly reviewing the field as a whole, firstly our book addresses the characteristic features of synthetic biology that are relevant to the societal discussion. Some of these features apply only to parts of synthetic biology, whereas others are relevant to synthetic bi...
Jewett, Michael C; Patolsky, Fernando
Nanotechnology, the area of science focused on the control of matter in the nanometer scale, allows ground-breaking changes of the fundamental properties of matter that are often radically different compared to those exhibited by the bulk counterparts. In view of the fact that dimensionality plays a key role in determining the qualities of matter, the realization of the great potential of nanotechnology has opened the door to other disciplines such as life sciences and medicine, where the merging between them offers exciting new applications, along with basic science research. The application of nanotechnology in life sciences, nanobiotechnology, is now having a profound impact on biological circuit design, bioproduction systems, synthetic biology, medical diagnostics, disease therapy and drug delivery. This special issue is dedicated to the overview of how we are learning to control biopolymers and biological machines at the molecular- and nanoscale. In addition, it covers far-reaching progress in the design and synthesis of nanoscale materials, thus enabling the construction of integrated systems in which the component blocks are comparable in size to the chemical and biological entities under investigation.
Gilad, Assaf A; Shapiro, Mikhail G
Biomedical synthetic biology is an emerging field in which cells are engineered at the genetic level to carry out novel functions with relevance to biomedical and industrial applications. This approach promises new treatments, imaging tools, and diagnostics for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal inflammatory syndromes to cancer, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. As these cellular technologies undergo pre-clinical and clinical development, it is becoming essential to monitor their location and function in vivo, necessitating appropriate molecular imaging strategies, and therefore, we have created an interest group within the World Molecular Imaging Society focusing on synthetic biology and reporter gene technologies. Here, we highlight recent advances in biomedical synthetic biology, including bacterial therapy, immunotherapy, and regenerative medicine. We then discuss emerging molecular imaging approaches to facilitate in vivo applications, focusing on reporter genes for noninvasive modalities such as magnetic resonance, ultrasound, photoacoustic imaging, bioluminescence, and radionuclear imaging. Because reporter genes can be incorporated directly into engineered genetic circuits, they are particularly well suited to imaging synthetic biological constructs, and developing them provides opportunities for creative molecular and genetic engineering.
Rodríguez López, Blanca
Synthetic biology is a new discipline that is twofold: firstly it offers the promise to pay benefits that can alleviate some of the ills that plague mankind; On the other hand, like all technologies, holds risks. Given these, the most critical and concerned about the risks, invoke the application of the precautionary principle, common in cases where an activity or new technology creates risks to the environment and/or human health, but far from universally accepted happens to be currently one of the most controversial principles. In this paper the question of the risks and benefits of synthetic biology and the relevance of applying the precautionary principle are analyzed. To do this we proceed as follows. The first part focuses on synthetic biology. At first, this discipline is characterized, with special attention to what is novel compared to the known as "genetic engineering". In the second stage both the benefits and the risks associated with it are discussed. The first part concludes with a review of the efforts currently being made to control or minimize the risks. The second part aims to analyze the precautionary principle and its possible relevance to the case of Synthetic Biology. At first, the different versions and interpretations of the principle and the various criticisms of which has been the subject are reviewed. Finally, after discarding the Precautionary Principle as an useful tool, it is seen as more appropriate some recent proposals to treat technologies that take into account not only risks but also their benefits.
Smith, Mark Thomas; Wilding, Kristen M; Hunt, Jeremy M; Bennett, Anthony M; Bundy, Bradley C
The engineering of and mastery over biological parts has catalyzed the emergence of synthetic biology. This field has grown exponentially in the past decade. As increasingly more applications of synthetic biology are pursued, more challenges are encountered, such as delivering genetic material into cells and optimizing genetic circuits in vivo. An in vitro or cell-free approach to synthetic biology simplifies and avoids many of the pitfalls of in vivo synthetic biology. In this review, we describe some of the innate features that make cell-free systems compelling platforms for synthetic biology and discuss emerging improvements of cell-free technologies. We also select and highlight recent and emerging applications of cell-free synthetic biology. Copyright © 2014 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Minty, Jeremy J; Varedi K, S Marjan; Nina Lin, Xiaoxia
In their new Cell paper, Cantone et al. (2009) present exciting results on constructing and utilizing a small synthetic gene regulatory network in yeast that draws from two rapidly developing fields of systems and synthetic biology.
Tang, Zhe F; McMillen, David R
Homeostatic biological systems resist external disturbances, allowing cells and organisms to maintain a constant internal state despite perturbations from their surroundings. Many biological regulatory networks are known to act homeostatically, with examples including thermal adaptation, osmoregulation, and chemotaxis. Understanding the network topologies (sets of regulatory interactions) and biological parameter regimes that can yield homeostasis in a biological system is of interest both for the study of natural biological system, and in the context of designing new biological control schemes for use in synthetic biology. Here, we examine the mathematical properties of a function that maps a biological system's inputs to its outputs, we have formulated a novel criterion (the "cofactor condition") that compactly describes the conditions for homeostasis. We further analyze the problem of robust homeostasis, wherein the system is required to maintain homeostatic behavior when its parameter values are slightly altered. We use the cofactor condition to examine previously reported examples of robust homeostasis, showing that it is a useful way to unify a number of seemingly different analyses into a single framework. Based on the observation that all previous robustly homeostatic examples fall into one of three classes, we propose a "strong cofactor condition" and use it to provide an algorithm for designing new robustly homeostatic biological networks, giving both their topologies and constraints on their parameter values. Applying the design algorithm to a three-node biological network, we construct several robustly homeostatic genetic networks, uncovering network topologies not previously identified as candidates for exhibiting robust homeostasis.
Full Text Available Recently, the intended positive effects of the current patent system in biotechnological research have been widely questioned. As part of this review, it is discussed here one of the foundations of the model. The assumption of the indispensability of patents is examined through the analysis of their expected benefits; namely, that patents are suitable to ensure access to information, access to and use of inventions and, finally, that they should promote both creativity and research. Applied to synthetic biology, in spite of newly discovered techniques and promising products, this approach reveals that this discipline also encounters similar issues. However, it also offers a new vision of intellectual property rights and their effects on research, which is based on a different conception of the commons and its relationship with private ownership of intangible assets in the knowledge economy.
Dobrin, Anton; Saxena, Pratik; Fussenegger, Martin
Synthetic biology, an engineering, circuit-driven approach to biology, has developed whole new classes of therapeutics. Unfortunately, these advances have thus far been undercapitalized upon by basic researchers. As discussed herein, using synthetic circuits, one can undertake exhaustive investigations of the endogenous circuitry found in nature, develop novel detectors and better temporally and spatially controlled inducers. One could detect changes in DNA, RNA, protein or even transient signaling events, in cell-based systems, in live mice, and in humans. Synthetic biology has also developed inducible systems that can be induced chemically, optically or using radio waves. This induction has been re-wired to lead to changes in gene expression, RNA stability and splicing, protein stability and splicing, and signaling via endogenous pathways. Beyond simple detectors and inducible systems, one can combine these modalities and develop novel signal integration circuits that can react to a very precise pre-programmed set of conditions or even to multiple sets of precise conditions. In this review, we highlight some tools that were developed in which these circuits were combined such that the detection of a particular event automatically triggered a specific output. Furthermore, using novel circuit-design strategies, circuits have been developed that can integrate multiple inputs together in Boolean logic gates composed of up to 6 inputs. We highlight the tools available and what has been developed thus far, and highlight how some clinical tools can be very useful in basic science. Most of the systems that are presented can be integrated together; and the possibilities far exceed the number of currently developed strategies.
In their plans to modify organisms, synthetic biologists have contrasted engineering and tinkering. By drawing this contrast between their endeavors and what has happened during the evolution of organisms by natural selection, they underline the novelty of their projects and justify their ambitions. Synthetic biologists are at odds with a long tradition that has considered organisms as "perfect machines." This tradition had already been questioned by Stephen Jay Gould in the 1970s and received a major blow with the comparison made by François Jacob between organisms and the results of "bricolage" (tinkering). These contrasts between engineering and tinkering, synthetic biology and evolution, have no raison d'être. Machines built by humans are increasingly inspired by observations made on organisms. This is not a simple reversal of the previous trend-the mechanical conception of organisms-in which the characteristics of the latter were explained by comparison with human-built machines. Relations between organisms and machines have always been complex and ambiguous.
Luo, YZ; Lee, JK; Zhao, HM
Synthetic biology provides numerous great opportunities for chemical engineers in the development of new processes for large-scale production of biofuels, value-added chemicals, and protein therapeutics. However, challenges across all scales abound. In particular, the modularization and standardization of the components in a biological system, so-called biological parts, remain the biggest obstacle in synthetic biology. In this perspective, we will discuss the main challenges and opportunities in the rapidly growing synthetic biology field and the important roles that chemical engineers can play in its advancement. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Epstein, Michelle M; Vermeire, Theo
In 2013, three Scientific Committees of the European Commission (EC) drafted Scientific Opinions on synthetic biology that provide an operational definition and address risk assessment methodology, safety aspects, environmental risks, knowledge gaps, and research priorities. These Opinions contribute to the international discussions on the risk governance for synthetic biology developments.
Verseux, Cyprien; G Acevedo-Rocha, Carlos; Chizzolini, Fabio
In 2014, an international group of scholars from various fields analysed the "societal dimensions" of synthetic biology in an interdisciplinary summer school. Here, we report and discuss the biologists' observations on the general perception of synthetic biology by non-biologists who took part in...
Ciechonska, Marta; Grob, Alice; Isalan, Mark
Synthetic biology aims to re-organise and control biological components to make functional devices. Along the way, the iterative process of designing and testing gene circuits has the potential to yield many insights into the functioning of the underlying chassis of cells. Thus, synthetic biology is converging with disciplines such as systems biology and even classical cell biology, to give a new level of predictability to gene expression, cell metabolism and cellular signalling networks. This review gives an overview of the contributions that synthetic biology has made in understanding gene expression, in terms of cell heterogeneity (noise), the coupling of growth and energy usage to expression, and spatiotemporal considerations. We mainly compare progress in bacterial and mammalian systems, which have some of the most-developed engineering frameworks. Overall, one view of synthetic biology can be neatly summarised as "creating in order to understand."
He, Fei; Murabito, Ettore; Westerhoff, Hans V
Metabolic pathways can be engineered to maximize the synthesis of various products of interest. With the advent of computational systems biology, this endeavour is usually carried out through in silico theoretical studies with the aim to guide and complement further in vitro and in vivo experimental efforts. Clearly, what counts is the result in vivo, not only in terms of maximal productivity but also robustness against environmental perturbations. Engineering an organism towards an increased production flux, however, often compromises that robustness. In this contribution, we review and investigate how various analytical approaches used in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology are related to concepts developed by systems and control engineering. While trade-offs between production optimality and cellular robustness have already been studied diagnostically and statically, the dynamics also matter. Integration of the dynamic design aspects of control engineering with the more diagnostic aspects of metabolic, hierarchical control and regulation analysis is leading to the new, conceptual and operational framework required for the design of robust and productive dynamic pathways.
Escalante, Ana E.; Rebolleda-Gómez, María; Benítez, Mariana; Travisano, Michael
The metabolic capabilities of microbes are the basis for many major biotechnological advances, exploiting microbial diversity by selection or engineering of single strains. However, there are limits to the advances that can be achieved with single strains, and attention has turned toward the metabolic potential of consortia and the field of synthetic ecology. The main challenge for the synthetic ecology is that consortia are frequently unstable, largely because evolution by constituent members affects their interactions, which are the basis of collective metabolic functionality. Current practices in modeling consortia largely consider interactions as fixed circuits of chemical reactions, which greatly increases their tractability. This simplification comes at the cost of essential biological realism, stripping out the ecological context in which the metabolic actions occur and the potential for evolutionary change. In other words, evolutionary stability is not engineered into the system. This realization highlights the necessity to better identify the key components that influence the stable coexistence of microorganisms. Inclusion of ecological and evolutionary principles, in addition to biophysical variables and stoichiometric modeling of metabolism, is critical for microbial consortia design. This review aims to bring ecological and evolutionary concepts to the discussion on the stability of microbial consortia. In particular, we focus on the combined effect of spatial structure (connectivity of molecules and cells within the system) and ecological interactions (reciprocal and non-reciprocal) on the persistence of microbial consortia. We discuss exemplary cases to illustrate these ideas from published studies in evolutionary biology and biotechnology. We conclude by making clear the relevance of incorporating evolutionary and ecological principles to the design of microbial consortia, as a way of achieving evolutionarily stable and sustainable systems. PMID
Feng, Dawei; Wang, Kecheng; Wei, Zhangwen; Chen, Ying-Pin; Simon, Cory M; Arvapally, Ravi K; Martin, Richard L; Bosch, Mathieu; Liu, Tian-Fu; Fordham, Stephen; Yuan, Daqiang; Omary, Mohammad A; Haranczyk, Maciej; Smit, Berend; Zhou, Hong-Cai
.... Here we present a kinetically tuned dimensional augmentation synthetic route for the preparation of highly crystalline and extremely robust metal-organic frameworks with a preserved metal cluster core...
Davenport, Matthew W.
Nanoscopic pores in biological systems -- cells, for example -- are responsible for regulating the transport of ionic and molecular species between physiologically distinct compartments maintained by thin plasma membranes. These biological pores are proteinaceous structures: long, contorted chains of chemical building blocks called amino acids. Protein pores have evolved to span a staggering range of shapes, sizes and chemical properties, each crucial to a pore's unique functionality. Protein pores have extremely well-defined jobs. For instance, pores called ion channels only transport ions. Within this family, there are pores designated to selectively transport specific ions, such as sodium channels for sodium, chloride channels for chloride and so on. Further subdivisions exist within each type of ion channel, resulting in a pantheon of specialized proteins pores. Specificity and selectivity are bestowed upon a pore through its unique incorporation and arrangement of its amino acids, which in turn have their own unique chemical and physical properties. With hundreds of task-specific pores, deciphering the precise relationship between form and function in these protein channels is a critical, but daunting task. In this thesis, we examine an alternative for probing the fundamental mechanisms responsible for transport on the nanoscale. Solid-state membranes offer well-defined structural surrogates to directly address the science underlying pore functionality. Numerous protein pores rely on electronic interactions, size exclusion principles and hydrophobic effects to fulfill their duties, regardless of their amino acid sequence. Substituting an engineered and well-characterized pore, we strive to achieve and, thus, understand the hallmarks of biological pore function: analyte recognition and selective transport. While we restrict our study to only two readily available membrane materials -- one a polymer and the other a ceramic -- nanofabrication techniques give us
van Doren, Davy; Koenigstein, Stefan; Reiss, Thomas
In the past decades, synthetic biology has gained interest regarding research and development efforts within the biotechnology domain. However, it is unclear to what extent synthetic biology has matured already into being commercially exploitable. By means of a patent analysis, this study shows that there is an increasing trend regarding synthetic biology related patent applications. The majority of retrieved patents relates to innovations facilitating the realisation of synthetic biology through improved understanding of biological systems. In addition, there is increased activity concerning the development of synthetic biology based applications. When looking at potential application areas, the majority of synthetic biology patents seems most relevant for the medical, energy and industrial sector. Furthermore, the analysis shows that most activity has been carried out by the USA, with Japan and a number of European countries considerably trailing behind. In addition, both universities and companies are major patent applicant actor types. The results presented here form a starting point for follow-up studies concerning the identification of drivers explaining the observed patent application trends in synthetic biology.
Lepenies, Bernd; Yin, Jian; Seeberger, Peter H
Access to synthetic carbohydrates is an urgent need for the development of carbohydrate-based drugs, vaccines, adjuvants as well as novel drug delivery systems. Besides traditional synthesis in solution, synthetic carbohydrates have been generated by chemoenzymatic methods as well as automated solid-phase synthesis. Synthetic oligosaccharides have proven to be useful for identifying ligands of carbohydrate-binding proteins such as C-type lectins and siglecs using glycan arrays. Furthermore, glyconanoparticles and glycodendrimers have been used for specific targeting of lectins of the immune system such as selectins, DC-SIGN, and CD22. This review focuses on how diverse carbohydrate structures can be synthetically derived and highlights the benefit of synthetic carbohydrates for glycobiology.
Full Text Available Abstract Background Collective rhythms of gene regulatory networks have been a subject of considerable interest for biologists and theoreticians, in particular the synchronization of dynamic cells mediated by intercellular communication. Synchronization of a population of synthetic genetic oscillators is an important design in practical applications, because such a population distributed over different host cells needs to exploit molecular phenomena simultaneously in order to emerge a biological phenomenon. However, this synchronization may be corrupted by intrinsic kinetic parameter fluctuations and extrinsic environmental molecular noise. Therefore, robust synchronization is an important design topic in nonlinear stochastic coupled synthetic genetic oscillators with intrinsic kinetic parameter fluctuations and extrinsic molecular noise. Results Initially, the condition for robust synchronization of synthetic genetic oscillators was derived based on Hamilton Jacobi inequality (HJI. We found that if the synchronization robustness can confer enough intrinsic robustness to tolerate intrinsic parameter fluctuation and extrinsic robustness to filter the environmental noise, then robust synchronization of coupled synthetic genetic oscillators is guaranteed. If the synchronization robustness of a population of nonlinear stochastic coupled synthetic genetic oscillators distributed over different host cells could not be maintained, then robust synchronization could be enhanced by external control input through quorum sensing molecules. In order to simplify the analysis and design of robust synchronization of nonlinear stochastic synthetic genetic oscillators, the fuzzy interpolation method was employed to interpolate several local linear stochastic coupled systems to approximate the nonlinear stochastic coupled system so that the HJI-based synchronization design problem could be replaced by a simple linear matrix inequality (LMI-based design problem
Borodina, Irina; Li, Mingji
Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering enable generation of novel cell factories that efficiently convert renewable feedstocks into biofuels, bulk, and fine chemicals, thus creating the basis for biosustainable economy independent on fossil resources. While over a hundred proof...... biology has the potential to bring down this cost by improving our ability to predictably engineer biological systems. This review highlights synthetic biology applications for design, assembly, and optimization of non-native biochemical pathways in baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We describe......-of-concept chemicals have been made in yeast, only a very small fraction of those has reached commercial-scale production so far. The limiting factor is the high research cost associated with the development of a robust cell factory that can produce the desired chemical at high titer, rate, and yield. Synthetic...
Awan, Ali R; Shaw, William M; Ellis, Tom
Natural products are a group of bioactive structurally diverse chemicals produced by microorganisms and plants. These molecules and their derivatives have contributed to over a third of the therapeutic drugs produced in the last century. However, over the last few decades traditional drug discovery pipelines from natural products have become far less productive and far more expensive. One recent development with promise to combat this trend is the application of synthetic biology to therapeutic natural product biosynthesis. Synthetic biology is a young discipline with roots in systems biology, genetic engineering, and metabolic engineering. In this review, we discuss the use of synthetic biology to engineer improved yields of existing therapeutic natural products. We further describe the use of synthetic biology to combine and express natural product biosynthetic genes in unprecedented ways, and how this holds promise for opening up completely new avenues for drug discovery and production. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Jensen, Michael Krogh; Keasling, Jay
with continuous decreases in price and improvements in DNA synthesis, assembly and sequencing, synthetic biology tools will rationalize time-consuming strain engineering, improve control of metabolic fluxes, and diversify screening assays for cellular metabolism. This review outlines some recently developed...... to engineer microbial chemical factories has steadily decreased, improvement is still needed. Through the development of synthetic biology tools for key microbial hosts, it should be possible to further decrease the development times and improve the reliability of the resulting microorganism. Together...... synthetic biology tools and their application to improve production of chemicals and fuels in yeast. Finally, we provide a perspective for the challenges that lie ahead....
Minssen, Timo; Rutz, Berthold; van Zimmeren, Esther
On 26th November 2013, the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation organized an expert meeting on "Synthetic Biology & Intellectual Property Rights" in Copenhagen sponsored by the European Research Area Network in Synthetic Biology (ERASynBio). The meeting brought together ten experts from different countries with a variety of professional backgrounds to discuss emerging challenges and opportunities at the interface of synthetic biology and intellectual property rights. The aim of this article is to provide a summary of the major issues and recommendations discussed during the meeting.
Borkowski, Olivier; Ceroni, Francesca; Stan, Guy-Bart; Ellis, Tom
The predictability and robustness of engineered bacteria depend on the many interactions between synthetic constructs and their host cells. Expression from synthetic constructs is an unnatural load for the host that typically reduces growth, triggers stresses and leads to decrease in performance or failure of engineered cells. Work in systems and synthetic biology has now begun to address this through new tools, methods and strategies that characterise and exploit host-construct interactions in bacteria. Focusing on work in E. coli, we review here a selection of the recent developments in this area, highlighting the emerging issues and describing the new solutions that are now making the synthetic biology community consider the cell just as much as they consider the construct.
Verseux, Cyprien; Acevedo-Rocha, Carlos G.; Chizzolini, Fabio; Rothschild, Lynn J.
In 2014, an international group of scholars from various fields analysed the "societal dimensions" of synthetic biology in an interdisciplinary summer school. Here, we report and discuss the biologists' observations on the general perception of synthetic biology by non-biologists who took part in this event. Most attendees mainly associated synthetic biology with contributions from the best-known public figures of the field, rarely mentioning other scientists. Media extrapolations of those contributions appeared to have created unrealistic expectations and irrelevant fears that were widely disconnected from the current research in synthetic biology. Another observation was that when debating developments in synthetic biology, semantics strongly mattered: depending on the terms used to present an application of synthetic biology, attendees reacted in radically different ways. For example, using the term "GMOs" (genetically modified organisms) rather than the term "genetic engineering" led to very different reactions. Stimulating debates also happened with participants having unanticipated points of view, for instance biocentrist ethicists who argued that engineered microbes should not be used for human purposes. Another communication challenge emerged from the connotations and inaccuracies surrounding the word "life", which impaired constructive debates, thus leading to misconceptions about the abilities of scientists to engineer or even create living organisms. Finally, it appeared that synthetic biologists tend to overestimate the knowledge of non-biologists, further affecting communication. The motivation and ability of synthetic biologists to communicate their work outside their research field needs to be fostered, notably towards policymakers who need a more accurate and technical understanding of the field to make informed decisions. Interdisciplinary events gathering scholars working in and around synthetic biology are an effective tool in addressing those
Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing engineering discipline in biology. It aims at building novel biological systems that do not exist in nature by selecting the interchangeable standardized biological parts that are already available in the nature, and assembling them in a specific order. Today......, this modern field of synthetic biology is completely dependent on the nature of the chassis - the host organisms - for its endeavor. Of all the chassis, photosynthetic organisms such as cyanobacteria and plants gains special attention due to the remarkable amount of sunlight that is striking the Earth......’s atmosphere and anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) increase in the atmosphere. Hence, tapping into photosynthesis for synthetic biology endeavor is very rational, and for future, it has a huge potential for the industrial production of fuels and high value bioactive compounds in a sustainable way. Most...
Weir, Lorna; Selgelid, Michael J
This article considers professionalization as a governance strategy for synthetic biology, reporting on social science interviews done with scientists, science journal editors, members of science advisory boards and authors of nongovernmental policy reports on synthetic biology. After summarizing their observations about the potential advantages and disadvantages of the professionalization of synthetic biology, we analyze professionalization as a strategy that overcomes dichotomies found in the current debates about synthetic biology governance, specifically "top down" versus "bottom up" governance and scientific fact versus public values. Professionalization combines community and state, fact and value. Like all governance options, professionalization has limitations, particularly regarding war and peace. It is best conceptualized as potentially part of a wider range of governance mechanisms working in concert: a "web of prevention".
Paddon, Chris J; Keasling, Jay D
Recent developments in synthetic biology, combined with continued progress in systems biology and metabolic engineering, have enabled the engineering of microorganisms to produce heterologous molecules in a manner that was previously unfeasible. The successful synthesis and recent entry of semi-synthetic artemisinin into commercial production is the first demonstration of the potential of synthetic biology for the development and production of pharmaceutical agents. In this Review, we describe the metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approaches that were used to develop this important antimalarial drug precursor. This not only demonstrates the incredible potential of the available technologies but also illuminates how lessons learned from this work could be applied to the production of other pharmaceutical agents.
In the ethical debate over synthetic biology the formula “playing god” is widely used in order to attack this new branch of biotechnology. The article analyses, contextualizes and criticises this usage with respect to the theological concepts of creation, sin and humans as created in the image of God. Against the background of these theological understandings an ethical corridor of how to responsibly cope with the societal challenges of synthetic biology is presented.
In the ethical debate over synthetic biology the formula "playing god" is widely used in order to attack this new branch of biotechnology. The article analyses, contextualizes and criticises this usage with respect to the theological concepts of creation, sin and humans as created in the image of God. Against the background of these theological understandings an ethical corridor of how to responsibly cope with the societal challenges of synthetic biology is presented.
Berla, Bertram M.; Saha, Rajib; Immethun, Cheryl M.; Maranas, Costas D.; Moon, Tae Seok; Pakrasi, Himadri B.
Photosynthetic organisms, and especially cyanobacteria, hold great promise as sources of renewably-produced fuels, bulk and specialty chemicals, and nutritional products. Synthetic biology tools can help unlock cyanobacteria's potential for these functions, but unfortunately tool development for these organisms has lagged behind that for S. cerevisiae and E. coli. While these organisms may in many cases be more difficult to work with as “chassis” strains for synthetic biology than certain het...
Rothschild, Lynn J.
The time has come to for NASA to exploit synthetic biology in pursuit of its missions, including aeronautics, earth science, astrobiology and most notably, human exploration. Conversely, NASA advances the fundamental technology of synthetic biology as no one else can because of its unique expertise in the origin of life and life in extreme environments, including the potential for alternate life forms. This enables unique, creative "game changing" advances. NASA's requirement for minimizing upmass in flight will also drive the field toward miniaturization and automation. These drivers will greatly increase the utility of synthetic biology solutions for military, health in remote areas and commercial purposes. To this end, we have begun a program at NASA to explore the use of synthetic biology in NASA's missions, particular space exploration. As part of this program, we began hosting an iGEM team of undergraduates drawn from Brown and Stanford Universities to conduct synthetic biology research at NASA Ames Research Center. The 2011 team (http://2011.igem.org/Team:Brown-Stanford) produced an award-winning project on using synthetic biology as a basis for a human Mars settlement.
Barcena Menendez, Diego; Senthivel, Vivek Raj; Isalan, Mark
Sender-receiver (S-R) systems abound in biology, with communication systems sending information in various forms. Information theory provides a quantitative basis for analysing these processes and is being applied to study natural genetic, enzymatic and neural networks. Recent advances in synthetic biology are providing us with a wealth of artificial S-R systems, giving us quantitative control over networks with a finite number of well-characterised components. Combining the two approaches can help to predict how to maximise signalling robustness, and will allow us to make increasingly complex biological computers. Ultimately, pushing the boundaries of synthetic biology will require moving beyond engineering the flow of information and towards building more sophisticated circuits that interpret biological meaning.
Barcena Menendez, Diego; Senthivel, Vivek Raj; Isalan, Mark
Sender–receiver (S–R) systems abound in biology, with communication systems sending information in various forms. Information theory provides a quantitative basis for analysing these processes and is being applied to study natural genetic, enzymatic and neural networks. Recent advances in synthetic biology are providing us with a wealth of artificial S–R systems, giving us quantitative control over networks with a finite number of well-characterised components. Combining the two approaches can help to predict how to maximise signalling robustness, and will allow us to make increasingly complex biological computers. Ultimately, pushing the boundaries of synthetic biology will require moving beyond engineering the flow of information and towards building more sophisticated circuits that interpret biological meaning. PMID:25282688
Keung, Albert J.; Joung, J. Keith; Khalil, Ahmad S.; Collins, James J.
As synthetic biology approaches are extended to diverse applications throughout medicine, biotechnology and basic biological research, there is an increasing need to engineer yeast, plant and mammalian cells. Eukaryotic genomes are regulated by the diverse biochemical and biophysical states of chromatin, which brings distinct challenges, as well as opportunities, over applications in bacteria. Recent synthetic approaches, including `epigenome editing', have allowed the direct and functional dissection of many aspects of physiological chromatin regulation. These studies lay the foundation for biomedical and biotechnological engineering applications that could take advantage of the unique combinatorial and spatiotemporal layers of chromatin regulation to create synthetic systems of unprecedented sophistication. PMID:25668787
Purcell, Oliver; Jain, Bonny; Karr, Jonathan R.; Covert, Markus W.; Lu, Timothy K.
Despite rapid advances over the last decade, synthetic biology lacks the predictive tools needed to enable rational design. Unlike established engineering disciplines, the engineering of synthetic gene circuits still relies heavily on experimental trial-and-error, a time-consuming and inefficient process that slows down the biological design cycle. This reliance on experimental tuning is because current modeling approaches are unable to make reliable predictions about the in vivo behavior of synthetic circuits. A major reason for this lack of predictability is that current models view circuits in isolation, ignoring the vast number of complex cellular processes that impinge on the dynamics of the synthetic circuit and vice versa. To address this problem, we present a modeling approach for the design of synthetic circuits in the context of cellular networks. Using the recently published whole-cell model of Mycoplasma genitalium, we examined the effect of adding genes into the host genome. We also investigated how codon usage correlates with gene expression and find agreement with existing experimental results. Finally, we successfully implemented a synthetic Goodwin oscillator in the whole-cell model. We provide an updated software framework for the whole-cell model that lays the foundation for the integration of whole-cell models with synthetic gene circuit models. This software framework is made freely available to the community to enable future extensions. We envision that this approach will be critical to transforming the field of synthetic biology into a rational and predictive engineering discipline.
Edmundson, Matthew C; Capeness, Michael; Horsfall, Louise
The fields of metallic nanoparticle study and synthetic biology have a great deal to offer one another. Metallic nanoparticles as a class of material have many useful properties. Their small size allows for more points of contact than would be the case with a similar bulk compound, making nanoparticles excellent candidates for catalysts or for when increased levels of binding are required. Some nanoparticles have unique optical qualities, making them well suited as sensors, while others display para-magnetism, useful in medical imaging, especially by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Many of these metallic nanoparticles could be used in creating tools for synthetic biology, and conversely the use of synthetic biology could itself be utilised to create nanoparticle tools. Examples given here include the potential use of quantum dots (QDs) and gold nanoparticles as sensing mechanisms in synthetic biology, and the use of synthetic biology to create nanoparticle-sensing devices based on current methods of detecting metals and metalloids such as arsenate. There are a number of organisms which are able to produce a range of metallic nanoparticles naturally, such as species of the fungus Phoma which produces anti-microbial silver nanoparticles. The biological synthesis of nanoparticles may have many advantages over their more traditional industrial synthesis. If the proteins involved in biological nanoparticle synthesis can be put into a suitable bacterial chassis then they might be manipulated and the pathways engineered in order to produce more valuable nanoparticles. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Fletcher, Liz; Rosser, Susan; Elfick, Alistair
The Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology ('SynthSys') was originally established in 2007 as the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Today, SynthSys embraces an extensive multidisciplinary community of more than 200 researchers from across the University with a common interest in synthetic and systems biology. Our research is broad and deep, addressing a diversity of scientific questions, with wide ranging impact. We bring together the power of synthetic biology and systems approaches to focus on three core thematic areas: industrial biotechnology, agriculture and the environment, and medicine and healthcare. In October 2015, we opened a newly refurbished building as a physical hub for our new U.K. Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology funded by the BBSRC/EPSRC/MRC as part of the U.K. Research Councils' Synthetic Biology for Growth programme. © 2016 The Author(s). published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
Artificial intelligence can make numerous contributions to synthetic biology. I would like to suggest three that are related to the past, present and future of artificial intelligence. From the past, works in biology and artificial systems by Turing and von Neumann prove highly interesting to explore within the new framework of synthetic biology, especially with regard to the notions of self-modification and self-replication and their links to emergence and the bottom-up approach. The current epistemological inquiry into emergence and research on swarm intelligence, superorganisms and biologically inspired cognitive architecture may lead to new achievements on the possibilities of synthetic biology in explaining cognitive processes. Finally, the present-day discussion on the future of artificial intelligence and the rise of superintelligence may point to some research trends for the future of synthetic biology and help to better define the boundary of notions such as "life", "cognition", "artificial" and "natural", as well as their interconnections in theoretical synthetic biology. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Garcia, Hernan G; Brewster, Robert C; Phillips, Rob
The main tenet of physical biology is that biological phenomena can be subject to the same quantitative and predictive understanding that physics has afforded in the context of inanimate matter. However, the inherent complexity of many of these biological processes often leads to the derivation of complex theoretical descriptions containing a plethora of unknown parameters. Such complex descriptions pose a conceptual challenge to the establishment of a solid basis for predictive biology. In this article, we present various exciting examples of how synthetic biology can be used to simplify biological systems and distill these phenomena down to their essential features as a means to enable their theoretical description. Here, synthetic biology goes beyond previous efforts to engineer nature and becomes a tool to bend nature to understand it. We discuss various recent and classic experiments featuring applications of this synthetic approach to the elucidation of problems ranging from bacteriophage infection, to transcriptional regulation in bacteria and in developing embryos, to evolution. In all of these examples, synthetic biology provides the opportunity to turn cells into the equivalent of a test tube, where biological phenomena can be reconstituted and our theoretical understanding put to test with the same ease that these same phenomena can be studied in the in vitro setting.
Bartley, Bryan; Beal, Jacob; Clancy, Kevin; Misirli, Goksel; Roehner, Nicholas; Oberortner, Ernst; Pocock, Matthew; Bissell, Michael; Madsen, Curtis; Nguyen, Tramy; Zhang, Zhen; Gennari, John H; Myers, Chris; Wipat, Anil; Sauro, Herbert
Synthetic biology builds upon the techniques and successes of genetics, molecular biology, and metabolic engineering by applying engineering principles to the design of biological systems. The field still faces substantial challenges, including long development times, high rates of failure, and poor reproducibility. One method to ameliorate these problems would be to improve the exchange of information about designed systems between laboratories. The Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) has been developed as a standard to support the specification and exchange of biological design information in synthetic biology, filling a need not satisfied by other pre-existing standards. This document details version 2.0 of SBOL, introducing a standardized format for the electronic exchange of information on the structural and functional aspects of biological designs. The standard has been designed to support the explicit and unambiguous description of biological designs by means of a well defined data model. The standard also includes rules and best practices on how to use this data model and populate it with relevant design details. The publication of this specification is intended to make these capabilities more widely accessible to potential developers and users in the synthetic biology community and beyond.
Bacchus, William; Aubel, Dominique; Fussenegger, Martin
The development and progress in synthetic biology has been remarkable. Although still in its infancy, synthetic biology has achieved much during the past decade. Improvements in genetic circuit design have increased the potential for clinical applicability of synthetic biology research. What began as simple transcriptional gene switches has rapidly developed into a variety of complex regulatory circuits based on the transcriptional, translational and post-translational regulation. Instead of compounds with potential pharmacologic side effects, the inducer molecules now used are metabolites of the human body and even members of native cell signaling pathways. In this review, we address recent progress in mammalian synthetic biology circuit design and focus on how novel designs push synthetic biology toward clinical implementation. Groundbreaking research on the implementation of optogenetics and intercellular communications is addressed, as particularly optogenetics provides unprecedented opportunities for clinical application. Along with an increase in synthetic network complexity, multicellular systems are now being used to provide a platform for next-generation circuit design.
Peccoud, Jean; Isalan, Mark
Since it was launched in 2006, PLOS ONE has published over fifty articles illustrating the many facets of the emerging field of synthetic biology. This article reviews these publications by organizing them into broad categories focused on DNA synthesis and assembly techniques, the development of libraries of biological parts, the use of synthetic biology in protein engineering applications, and the engineering of gene regulatory networks and metabolic pathways. Finally, we review articles that describe enabling technologies such as software and modeling, along with new instrumentation. In order to increase the visibility of this body of work, the papers have been assembled into the PLOS ONE Synthetic Biology Collection (www.ploscollections.org/synbio). Many of the innovative features of the PLOS ONE web site will help make this collection a resource that will support a lively dialogue between readers and authors of PLOS ONE synthetic biology papers. The content of the collection will be updated periodically by including relevant articles as they are published by the journal. Thus, we hope that this collection will continue to meet the publishing needs of the synthetic biology community.
Peccoud, Jean; Isalan, Mark
Since it was launched in 2006, PLOS ONE has published over fifty articles illustrating the many facets of the emerging field of synthetic biology. This article reviews these publications by organizing them into broad categories focused on DNA synthesis and assembly techniques, the development of libraries of biological parts, the use of synthetic biology in protein engineering applications, and the engineering of gene regulatory networks and metabolic pathways. Finally, we review articles that describe enabling technologies such as software and modeling, along with new instrumentation. In order to increase the visibility of this body of work, the papers have been assembled into the PLOS ONE Synthetic Biology Collection (www.ploscollections.org/synbio). Many of the innovative features of the PLOS ONE web site will help make this collection a resource that will support a lively dialogue between readers and authors of PLOS ONE synthetic biology papers. The content of the collection will be updated periodically by including relevant articles as they are published by the journal. Thus, we hope that this collection will continue to meet the publishing needs of the synthetic biology community. PMID:22916228
Sánchez Reyes, Patricia Margarita
Using the principles of biology, along with engineering and with the help of computer, scientists manage to copy. DNA sequences from nature and use them to create new organisms. DNA is created through engineering and computer science managing to create life inside a laboratory. We cannot dismiss the role that synthetic biology could lead in…
Myers, Chris J.
A synthetic biology workflow is composed of data repositories that provide information about genetic parts, sequence-level design tools to compose these parts into circuits, visualization tools to depict these designs, genetic design tools to select parts to create systems, and modeling and simulation tools to evaluate alternative design choices. Data standards enable the ready exchange of information within such a workflow, allowing repositories and tools to be connected from a diversity of sources. The present paper describes one such workflow that utilizes, among others, the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) to describe genetic designs, the Systems Biology Markup Language to model these designs, and SBOL Visual to visualize these designs. We describe how a standard-enabled workflow can be used to produce types of design information, including multiple repositories and software tools exchanging information using a variety of data standards. Recently, the ACS Synthetic Biology journal has recommended the use of SBOL in their publications.
Karig, David K
The fields of biosensing and bioremediation leverage the phenomenal array of sensing and metabolic capabilities offered by natural microbes. Synthetic biology provides tools for transforming these fields through complex integration of natural and novel biological components to achieve sophisticated sensing, regulation, and metabolic function. However, the majority of synthetic biology efforts are conducted in living cells, and concerns over releasing genetically modified organisms constitute a key barrier to environmental applications. Cell-free protein expression systems offer a path towards leveraging synthetic biology, while preventing the spread of engineered organisms in nature. Recent efforts in the areas of cell-free approaches for sensing, regulation, and metabolic pathway implementation, as well as for preserving and deploying cell-free expression components, embody key steps towards realizing the potential of cell-free systems for environmental sensing and remediation.
Benner, Steven A
Physicists frequently allow aesthetics to guide their science. Chemists sometimes do. Biologists rarely do. They have encountered too frequently the consequences of the Darwinian 'hack'. The biological parts delivered by Darwinian processes are rarely simple, efficient, or elegant solutions to the biological problems that they address. Nevertheless, as humans, we seek to find aesthetics within our activities. In general, however, it is hard to distinguish what we say is beautiful from what is, in reality, utilitarian.
Fletcher, Eugene; Krivoruchko, Anastasia; Nielsen, Jens
Engineering industrial cell factories to effectively yield a desired product while dealing with industrially relevant stresses is usually the most challenging step in the development of industrial production of chemicals using microbial fermentation processes. Using synthetic biology tools, microbial cell factories such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae can be engineered to express synthetic pathways for the production of fuels, biopharmaceuticals, fragrances, and food flavors. However, directing fluxes through these synthetic pathways towards the desired product can be demanding due to complex regulation or poor gene expression. Systems biology, which applies computational tools and mathematical modeling to understand complex biological networks, can be used to guide synthetic biology design. Here, we present our perspective on how systems biology can impact synthetic biology towards the goal of developing improved yeast cell factories. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2016;113: 1164-1170. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Wellhausen, Rachel; Mukunda, Gautam
What implications might synthetic biology's potential as a wholly new method of production have for the world economy, particularly developing countries? Theories of political economy predict that synthetic biology can shift terms of trade and displace producers in developing countries. Governments, however, retain the ability to mitigate negative changes through social safety nets and to foster adaptation to some changes through research, education and investment. We consider the effects the synthetic production of otherwise naturally derived molecules are likely to have on trade and investment, particularly in developing countries. Both rubber in Malaysia and indigo dyes in India provide historical examples of natural molecules that faced market dislocations from synthetic competitors. Natural rubber was able to maintain significant market share, while natural indigo vanished from world markets. These cases demonstrate the two extremes of the impact synthetic biology might have on naturally derived products. If developing countries can cushion the pain of technological changes by providing producers support as they retool or exit, the harmful effects of synthetic biology can be mitigated while its benefits can still be captured.
Full Text Available Synthetic biology, a field that aims to ‘make biology easier to engineer’, is routinely described as leading to an increase in the ‘dual use’ threat, i.e. the potential for the same piece of scientific research to be ‘used’ for peaceful purposes or ‘misused’ for warfare or terrorism. Fears have been expressed that the ‘de-skilling’ of biology, combined with online access to the genomic DNA sequences of pathogenic organisms and the reduction in price for DNA synthesis, will make biology increasingly accessible to people operating outside well-equipped professional research laboratories, including people with malevolent intentions. The emergence of DIY biology communities and of the student iGEM competition has come to epitomize this supposed trend towards greater ease of access and the associated potential threat from rogue actors. In this article, we identify 5 ‘myths’ that permeate discussions about synthetic biology and biosecurity, and argue that they embody misleading assumptions about both synthetic biology and bioterrorism. We demonstrate how these myths are challenged by more realistic understandings of the scientific research currently being conducted in both professional and DIY laboratories, and by an analysis of historical cases of bioterrorism. We show that the importance of tacit knowledge is commonly overlooked in the dominant narrative: the focus is on access to biological materials and digital information, rather than on human practices and institutional dimensions. As a result, public discourse on synthetic biology and biosecurity tends to portray speculative scenarios about the future as realities in the present or the near future, when this is not warranted. We suggest that these ‘myths’ play an important role in defining synthetic biology as a ‘promissory’ field of research and as an ‘emerging technology’ in need of governance.
Jefferson, Catherine; Lentzos, Filippa; Marris, Claire
Synthetic biology, a field that aims to “make biology easier to engineer,” is routinely described as leading to an increase in the “dual-use” threat, i.e., the potential for the same scientific research to be “used” for peaceful purposes or “misused” for warfare or terrorism. Fears have been expressed that the “de-skilling” of biology, combined with online access to the genomic DNA sequences of pathogenic organisms and the reduction in price for DNA synthesis, will make biology increasingly accessible to people operating outside well-equipped professional research laboratories, including people with malevolent intentions. The emergence of do-it-yourself (DIY) biology communities and of the student iGEM competition has come to epitomize this supposed trend toward greater ease of access and the associated potential threat from rogue actors. In this article, we identify five “myths” that permeate discussions about synthetic biology and biosecurity, and argue that they embody misleading assumptions about both synthetic biology and bioterrorism. We demonstrate how these myths are challenged by more realistic understandings of the scientific research currently being conducted in both professional and DIY laboratories, and by an analysis of historical cases of bioterrorism. We show that the importance of tacit knowledge is commonly overlooked in the dominant narrative: the focus is on access to biological materials and digital information, rather than on human practices and institutional dimensions. As a result, public discourse on synthetic biology and biosecurity tends to portray speculative scenarios about the future as realities in the present or the near future, when this is not warranted. We suggest that these “myths” play an important role in defining synthetic biology as a “promissory” field of research and as an “emerging technology” in need of governance. PMID:25191649
Madec, Morgan; Haiech, Jacques; Rosati, Élise; Rezgui, Abir; Gendrault, Yves; Lallement, Christophe
Synthetic biology is an emerging science that aims to create new biological functions that do not exist in nature, based on the knowledge acquired in life science over the last century. Since the beginning of this century, several projects in synthetic biology have emerged. The complexity of the developed artificial bio-functions is relatively low so that empirical design methods could be used for the design process. Nevertheless, with the increasing complexity of biological circuits, this is no longer the case and a large number of computer aided design softwares have been developed in the past few years. These tools include languages for the behavioral description and the mathematical modelling of biological systems, simulators at different levels of abstraction, libraries of biological devices and circuit design automation algorithms. All of these tools already exist in other fields of engineering sciences, particularly in microelectronics. This is the approach that is put forward in this paper.
Mark T. Mc Auley; Hyunok Choi; Kathleen Mooney; Emily Paul; Miller, Veronica M.
Systems biology and synthetic biology are emerging disciplines which are becoming increasingly utilised in several areas of bioscience. Toxicology is beginning to benefit from systems biology and we suggest in the future that is will also benefit from synthetic biology. Thus, a new era is on the horizon. This review illustrates how a suite of innovative techniques and tools can be applied to understanding complex health and toxicology issues. We review limitations confronted by the traditiona...
Knuuttila, Tarja; Loettgers, Andrea
The picture of synthetic biology as a kind of engineering science has largely created the public understanding of this novel field, covering both its promises and risks. In this paper, we will argue that the actual situation is more nuanced and complex. Synthetic biology is a highly interdisciplinary field of research located at the interface of physics, chemistry, biology, and computational science. All of these fields provide concepts, metaphors, mathematical tools, and models, which are typically utilized by synthetic biologists by drawing analogies between the different fields of inquiry. We will study analogical reasoning in synthetic biology through the emergence of the functional meaning of noise, which marks an important shift in how engineering concepts are employed in this field. The notion of noise serves also to highlight the differences between the two branches of synthetic biology: the basic science-oriented branch and the engineering-oriented branch, which differ from each other in the way they draw analogies to various other fields of study. Moreover, we show that fixing the mapping between a source domain and the target domain seems not to be the goal of analogical reasoning in actual scientific practice.
Bertram M Berla
Full Text Available Photosynthetic organisms, and especially cyanobacteria, hold great promise as sources of renewably-produced fuels, bulk and specialty chemicals, and nutritional products. Synthetic biology tools can help unlock cyanobacteria’s potential for these functions, but unfortunately tool development for these organisms has lagged behind that for S. cerevisiae and E. coli. While these organisms may in many cases be more difficult to work with as ‘chassis’ strains for synthetic biology than certain heterotrophs, the unique advantages of autotrophs in biotechnology applications as well as the scientific importance of improved understanding of photosynthesis warrant the development of these systems into something akin to a ‘green E. coli’. In this review, we highlight unique challenges and opportunities for development of synthetic biology approaches in cyanobacteria. We review classical and recently developed methods for constructing targeted mutants in various cyanobacterial strains, and offer perspective on what genetic tools might most greatly expand the ability to engineer new functions in such strains. Similarly, we review what genetic parts are most needed for the development of cyanobacterial synthetic biology. Finally, we highlight recent methods to construct genome-scale models of cyanobacterial metabolism and to use those models to measure properties of autotrophic metabolism. Throughout this paper, we discuss some of the unique challenges of a diurnal, autotrophic lifestyle along with how the development of synthetic biology and biotechnology in cyanobacteria must fit within those constraints.
Berla, Bertram M; Saha, Rajib; Immethun, Cheryl M; Maranas, Costas D; Moon, Tae Seok; Pakrasi, Himadri B
Photosynthetic organisms, and especially cyanobacteria, hold great promise as sources of renewably-produced fuels, bulk and specialty chemicals, and nutritional products. Synthetic biology tools can help unlock cyanobacteria's potential for these functions, but unfortunately tool development for these organisms has lagged behind that for S. cerevisiae and E. coli. While these organisms may in many cases be more difficult to work with as "chassis" strains for synthetic biology than certain heterotrophs, the unique advantages of autotrophs in biotechnology applications as well as the scientific importance of improved understanding of photosynthesis warrant the development of these systems into something akin to a "green E. coli." In this review, we highlight unique challenges and opportunities for development of synthetic biology approaches in cyanobacteria. We review classical and recently developed methods for constructing targeted mutants in various cyanobacterial strains, and offer perspective on what genetic tools might most greatly expand the ability to engineer new functions in such strains. Similarly, we review what genetic parts are most needed for the development of cyanobacterial synthetic biology. Finally, we highlight recent methods to construct genome-scale models of cyanobacterial metabolism and to use those models to measure properties of autotrophic metabolism. Throughout this paper, we discuss some of the unique challenges of a diurnal, autotrophic lifestyle along with how the development of synthetic biology and biotechnology in cyanobacteria must fit within those constraints.
Moore, Simon J; MacDonald, James T; Freemont, Paul S
Cell-free transcription-translation is an expanding field in synthetic biology as a rapid prototyping platform for blueprinting the design of synthetic biological devices. Exemplar efforts include translation of prototype designs into medical test kits for on-site identification of viruses (Zika and Ebola), while gene circuit cascades can be tested, debugged and re-designed within rapid turnover times. Coupled with mathematical modelling, this discipline lends itself towards the precision engineering of new synthetic life. The next stages of cell-free look set to unlock new microbial hosts that remain slow to engineer and unsuited to rapid iterative design cycles. It is hoped that the development of such systems will provide new tools to aid the transition from cell-free prototype designs to functioning synthetic genetic circuits and engineered natural product pathways in living cells. © 2017 The Author(s).
Pasparakis, George; Krasnogor, Natalio; Cronin, Leroy; Davis, Benjamin G; Alexander, Cameron
The controlled assembly of synthetic polymer structures is now possible with an unprecedented range of functional groups and molecular architectures. In this critical review we consider how the ability to create artificial materials over lengthscales ranging from a few nm to several microns is generating systems that not only begin to mimic those in nature but also may lead to exciting applications in synthetic biology (139 references).
Nguyen, Tramy; Roehner, Nicholas; Zundel, Zach; Myers, Chris J
Standards are important to synthetic biology because they enable exchange and reproducibility of genetic designs. This paper describes a procedure for converting between two standards: the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) and the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL). SBML is a standard for behavioral models of biological systems at the molecular level. SBOL describes structural and basic qualitative behavioral aspects of a biological design. Converting SBML to SBOL enables a consistent connection between behavioral and structural information for a biological design. The conversion process described in this paper leverages Systems Biology Ontology (SBO) annotations to enable inference of a designs qualitative function.
Synthetic biology and therapeutic strategies for the degenerating brain: Synthetic biology approaches can transform classical cell and gene therapies, to provide new cures for neurodegenerative diseases.
Agustín-Pavón, Carmen; Isalan, Mark
Synthetic biology is an emerging engineering discipline that attempts to design and rewire biological components, so as to achieve new functions in a robust and predictable manner. The new tools and strategies provided by synthetic biology have the potential to improve therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, synthetic biology will help design small molecules, proteins, gene networks, and vectors to target disease-related genes. Ultimately, new intelligent delivery systems will provide targeted and sustained therapeutic benefits. New treatments will arise from combining 'protect and repair' strategies: the use of drug treatments, the promotion of neurotrophic factor synthesis, and gene targeting. Going beyond RNAi and artificial transcription factors, site-specific genome modification is likely to play an increasing role, especially with newly available gene editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 systems. Taken together, these advances will help develop safe and long-term therapies for many brain diseases in human patients. © 2014 The Authors. Bioessays published by WILEY Periodicals, Inc.
I discuss the moral significance of artificial life within synthetic biology via a discussion of Douglas, Powell and Savulescu's paper 'Is the creation of artificial life morally significant’. I argue that the definitions of 'artificial life’ and of 'moral significance’ are too narrow. Douglas......, Powell and Savulescu's definition of artificial life does not capture all core projects of synthetic biology or the ethical concerns that have been voiced, and their definition of moral significance fails to take into account the possibility that creating artificial life is conditionally acceptable....... Finally, I show how several important objections to synthetic biology are plausibly understood as arguing that creating artificial life in a wide sense is only conditionally acceptable....
Thaker, Maulik N; Wright, Gerard D
Synthetic biology offers a new path for the exploitation and improvement of natural products to address the growing crisis in antibiotic resistance. All antibiotics in clinical use are facing eventual obsolesce as a result of the evolution and dissemination of resistance mechanisms, yet there are few new drug leads forthcoming from the pharmaceutical sector. Natural products of microbial origin have proven over the past 70 years to be the wellspring of antimicrobial drugs. Harnessing synthetic biology thinking and strategies can provide new molecules and expand chemical diversity of known antibiotic scaffolds to provide much needed new drug leads. The glycopeptide antibiotics offer paradigmatic scaffolds suitable for such an approach. We review these strategies here using the glycopeptides as an example and demonstrate how synthetic biology can expand antibiotic chemical diversity to help address the growing resistance crisis.
Slawomir J. Nasuto; Hayashi, Yoshikatsu
The aim of this paper is to propose that current robotic technologies cannot have intentional states any more than is feasible within the sensorimotor variant of embodied cognition. It argues that anticipation is an emerging concept that can provide a bridge between both the deepest philosophical theories about the nature of life and cognition and the empirical biological and cognitive sciences steeped in reductionist and Newtonian conceptions of causality. The paper advocates that in order t...
Nasuto, Slawomir J; Hayashi, Yoshikatsu
The aim of this paper is to propose that current robotic technologies cannot have intentional states any more than is feasible within the sensorimotor variant of embodied cognition. It argues that anticipation is an emerging concept that can provide a bridge between both the deepest philosophical theories about the nature of life and cognition and the empirical biological and cognitive sciences steeped in reductionist and Newtonian conceptions of causality. The paper advocates that in order to move forward, cognitive robotics needs to embrace new platforms and a conceptual framework that will enable it to pursue, in a meaningful way, questions about autonomy and purposeful behaviour. We suggest that hybrid systems, part robotic and part cultures of neurones, offer experimental platforms where different dimensions of enactivism (sensorimotor, constitutive foundations of biological autonomy, including anticipation), and their relative contributions to cognition, can be investigated in an integrated way. A careful progression, mindful to the deep philosophical concerns but also respecting empirical evidence, will ultimately lead towards unifying theoretical and empirical biological sciences and may offer advancement where reductionist sciences have been so far faltering.
Tizei, Pedro A G; Csibra, Eszter; Torres, Leticia; Pinheiro, Vitor B
Life on Earth is incredibly diverse. Yet, underneath that diversity, there are a number of constants and highly conserved processes: all life is based on DNA and RNA; the genetic code is universal; biology is limited to a small subset of potential chemistries. A vast amount of knowledge has been accrued through describing and characterizing enzymes, biological processes and organisms. Nevertheless, much remains to be understood about the natural world. One of the goals in Synthetic Biology is to recapitulate biological complexity from simple systems made from biological molecules-gaining a deeper understanding of life in the process. Directed evolution is a powerful tool in Synthetic Biology, able to bypass gaps in knowledge and capable of engineering even the most highly conserved biological processes. It encompasses a range of methodologies to create variation in a population and to select individual variants with the desired function-be it a ligand, enzyme, pathway or even whole organisms. Here, we present some of the basic frameworks that underpin all evolution platforms and review some of the recent contributions from directed evolution to synthetic biology, in particular methods that have been used to engineer the Central Dogma and the genetic code. © 2016 The Author(s).
Liu, Yanfeng; Shin, Hyun-dong; Li, Jianghua; Liu, Long
Metabolic engineering facilitates the rational development of recombinant bacterial strains for metabolite overproduction. Building on enormous advances in system biology and synthetic biology, novel strategies have been established for multivariate optimization of metabolic networks in ensemble, spatial, and dynamic manners such as modular pathway engineering, compartmentalization metabolic engineering, and metabolic engineering guided by genome-scale metabolic models, in vitro reconstitution, and systems and synthetic biology. Herein, we summarize recent advances in novel metabolic engineering strategies. Combined with advancing kinetic models and synthetic biology tools, more efficient new strategies for improving cellular properties can be established and applied for industrially important biochemical production.
d’Espaux, Leo [Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst.; Mendez-Perez, Daniel [Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst.; Li, Rachel [Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology; Keasling, Jay D. [Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Joint BioEnergy Inst.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Bioengineering, QB3 Inst.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, QB3 Inst.
The risks of maintaining current CO2 emission trends have led to interest in producing biofuels using engineered microbes. Microbial biofuels reduce emissions because CO2 produced by fuel combustion is offset by CO2 captured by growing biomass, which is later used as feedstock for biofuel fermentation. Hydrocarbons found in petroleum fuels share striking similarity with biological lipids. Here in this paper we review synthetic metabolic pathways based on fatty acid and isoprenoid metabolism to produce alkanes and other molecules suitable as biofuels. Lastly, we further discuss engineering strategies to optimize engineered biosynthetic routes, as well as the potential of synthetic biology for sustainable manufacturing.
Fu, Li-Feng; Tao, Yang; Jin, Mei-Ying; Jiang, Hui
Synthetic biology has been applied to direct improvement of valuable metabolite productions. Tacrolimus (FK506), a clinically used immunosuppressive agent isolated from many Streptomyces, is produced by fermentation in industry. Here we chose FK506 as an example to review recent progress in improving FK506 production, including enhancing transcription levels of biosynthetic genes, accelerating post-translational modification levels of biosynthetic enzymes, increasing activities of rate limiting enzymes, and rational supplement of limited precursors. FK506 production was increased from 25 % to sevenfold by these synthetic biology approaches.
d'Espaux, Leo; Mendez-Perez, Daniel; Li, Rachel; Keasling, Jay D
The risks of maintaining current CO2 emission trends have led to interest in producing biofuels using engineered microbes. Microbial biofuels reduce emissions because CO2 produced by fuel combustion is offset by CO2 captured by growing biomass, which is later used as feedstock for biofuel fermentation. Hydrocarbons found in petroleum fuels share striking similarity with biological lipids. Here we review synthetic metabolic pathways based on fatty acid and isoprenoid metabolism to produce alkanes and other molecules suitable as biofuels. We further discuss engineering strategies to optimize engineered biosynthetic routes, as well as the potential of synthetic biology for sustainable manufacturing.
Church, George M
Imagine a future in which human beings have become immune to all viruses, in which bacteria can custom-produce everyday items, like a drinking cup, or generate enough electricity to end oil dependency. Building a house would entail no more work than planting a seed in the ground. These scenarios may seem far-fetched, but pioneering geneticist George Church and science writer Ed Regis show that synthetic biology is bringing us ever closer to making such visions a reality. In "Regenesis," Church and Regis explorethe possibilities--and perils--of the emerging field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, in which living organisms are selectively altered by modifying substantial portions of their genomes, allows for the creation of entirely new species of organisms. Until now, nature has been the exclusive arbiter of life, death, and evolution; with synthetic biology, we now have the potential to write our own biological future. Indeed, as Church and Regis show, it even enables us to revisit crucial points in th...
Yang, Jiaoyun; Wang, Haipeng; Ding, Huitong; An, Ning; Alterovitz, Gil
Visualizing data by dimensionality reduction is an important strategy in Bioinformatics, which could help to discover hidden data properties and detect data quality issues, e.g. data noise, inappropriately labeled data, etc. As crowdsourcing-based synthetic biology databases face similar data quality issues, we propose to visualize biobricks to tackle them. However, existing dimensionality reduction methods could not be directly applied on biobricks datasets. Hereby, we use normalized edit distance to enhance dimensionality reduction methods, including Isomap and Laplacian Eigenmaps. By extracting biobricks from synthetic biology database Registry of Standard Biological Parts, six combinations of various types of biobricks are tested. The visualization graphs illustrate discriminated biobricks and inappropriately labeled biobricks. Clustering algorithm K-means is adopted to quantify the reduction results. The average clustering accuracy for Isomap and Laplacian Eigenmaps are 0.857 and 0.844, respectively. Besides, Laplacian Eigenmaps is 5 times faster than Isomap, and its visualization graph is more concentrated to discriminate biobricks. By combining normalized edit distance with Isomap and Laplacian Eigenmaps, synthetic biology biobircks are successfully visualized in two dimensional space. Various types of biobricks could be discriminated and inappropriately labeled biobricks could be determined, which could help to assess crowdsourcing-based synthetic biology databases' quality, and make biobricks selection.
Scognamiglio, Viviana; Antonacci, Amina; Lambreva, Maya D; Litescu, Simona C; Rea, Giuseppina
Biosensors are powerful tunable systems able to switch between an ON/OFF status in response to an external stimulus. This extraordinary property could be engineered by adopting synthetic biology or biomimetic chemistry to obtain tailor-made biosensors having the desired requirements of robustness, sensitivity and detection range. Recent advances in both disciplines, in fact, allow to re-design the configuration of the sensing elements - either by modifying toggle switches and gene networks, or by producing synthetic entities mimicking key properties of natural molecules. The present review considered the role of synthetic biology in sustaining biosensor technology, reporting examples from the literature and reflecting on the features that make it a useful tool for designing and constructing engineered biological systems for sensing application. Besides, a section dedicated to bioinspired synthetic molecules as powerful tools to enhance biosensor potential is reported, and treated as an extension of the concept of biomimetic chemistry, where organic synthesis is used to generate artificial molecules that mimic natural molecules. Thus, the design of synthetic molecules, such as aptamers, biomimetics, molecular imprinting polymers, peptide nucleic acids, and ribozymes were encompassed as "products" of biomimetic chemistry. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Barrett, Christian L; Kim, Tae Yong; Kim, Hyun Uk; Palsson, Bernhard Ø; Lee, Sang Yup
As the ambitions of synthetic biology approach genome-scale engineering, comprehensive characterization of cellular systems is required, as well as a means to accurately model cell-scale molecular interactions. These requirements are coincident with the goals of systems biology and, thus, systems biology will become the foundation for genome-scale synthetic biology. Systems biology will form this foundation through its efforts to reconstruct and integrate cellular systems, develop the mathematics, theory and software tools for the accurate modeling of these integrated systems, and through evolutionary mechanisms. As genome-scale synthetic biology is so enabled, it will prove to be a positive feedback driver of systems biology by exposing and forcing researchers to confront those aspects of systems biology which are inadequately understood.
This article summarizes a contribution presented at the ESF 2009 Synthetic Biology focused on the concept of the minimal requirement for life and on the issue of constructive (synthetic) approaches in biological research. The attempts to define minimal life within the framework of autopoietic theory are firstly described, and a short report on the development of autopoietic chemical systems based on fatty acid vesicles, which are relevant as primitive cell models is given. These studies can be used as a starting point for the construction of more complex systems, firstly being inspired by possible origins of life scenarioes (and therefore by considering primitive functions), then by considering an approach based on modern biomacromolecular-encoded functions. At this aim, semi-synthetic minimal cells are defined as those man-made vesicle-based systems that are composed of the minimal number of genes, proteins, biomolecules and which can be defined as living. Recent achievements on minimal sized semi-synthetic cells are then discussed, and the kind of information obtained is recognized as being distinctively derived by a constructive approach. Synthetic biology is therefore a fundamental tool for gaining basic knowledge about biosystems, and it should not be confined at all to the engineering side.
Hogan, John Andrew
NASA ARC and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) collaborated to investigate the development of advanced microbial fuels cells (MFCs) for biological wastewater treatment and electricity production (electrogenesis). Synthetic biology techniques and integrated hardware advances were investigated to increase system efficiency and robustness, with the intent of increasing power self-sufficiency and potential product formation from carbon dioxide. MFCs possess numerous advantages for space missions, including rapid processing, reduced biomass and effective removal of organics, nitrogen and phosphorus. Project efforts include developing space-based MFC concepts, integration analyses, increasing energy efficiency, and investigating novel bioelectrochemical system applications
Smadbeck, Patrick; Kaznessis, Yiannis N
With inexpensive DNA synthesis technologies, we can now construct biological systems by quickly piecing together DNA sequences. Synthetic biology is the promising discipline that focuses on the construction of these new biological systems. Synthetic biology is an engineering discipline, and as such, it can benefit from mathematical modeling. This chapter focuses on mathematical models of biological systems. These models take the form of chemical reaction networks. The importance of stochasticity is discussed and methods to simulate stochastic reaction networks are reviewed. A closure scheme solution is also presented for the master equation of chemical reaction networks. The master equation is a complete model of randomly evolving molecular populations. Because of its ambitious character, the master equation remained unsolved for all but the simplest of molecular interaction networks for over 70 years. With the first complete solution of chemical master equations, a wide range of experimental observations of biomolecular interactions may be mathematically conceptualized. We anticipate that models based on the closure scheme described herein may assist in rationally designing synthetic biological systems.
Beal, Jacob; Cox, Robert Sidney; Grünberg, Raik; McLaughlin, James; Nguyen, Tramy; Bartley, Bryan; Bissell, Michael; Choi, Kiri; Clancy, Kevin; Macklin, Chris; Madsen, Curtis; Misirli, Goksel; Oberortner, Ernst; Pocock, Matthew; Roehner, Nicholas; Samineni, Meher; Zhang, Michael; Zhang, Zhen; Zundel, Zach; Gennari, John; Myers, Chris; Sauro, Herbert; Wipat, Anil
Synthetic biology builds upon the techniques and successes of genetics, molecular biology, and metabolic engineering by applying engineering principles to the design of biological systems. The field still faces substantial challenges, including long development times, high rates of failure, and poor reproducibility. One method to ameliorate these problems would be to improve the exchange of information about designed systems between laboratories. The Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) has been developed as a standard to support the specification and exchange of biological design information in synthetic biology, filling a need not satisfied by other pre-existing standards. This document details version 2.1 of SBOL that builds upon version 2.0 published in last year’s JIB special issue. In particular, SBOL 2.1 includes improved rules for what constitutes a valid SBOL document, new role fields to simplify the expression of sequence features and how components are used in context, and new best practices descriptions to improve the exchange of basic sequence topology information and the description of genetic design provenance, as well as miscellaneous other minor improvements.
Vial, Laurent; Ludlow, R. Frederick; Leclaire, Julien; Pérez-Fernández, Ruth; Otto, Sijbren
Polyamines play an important role in biology, yet their exact function in many processes is poorly understood. Artificial host molecules capable of sequestering polyamines could be useful tools for studying their cellular function. However, designing synthetic receptors with affinities sufficient to
) that it ignores the distinction between what reasons we have and what we should do all things considered. I then illustrate the Continuity Argument and its problems in the case where human manipulation of organisms’ genetic makeup is a suggested reason for finding synthetic biology problematic. Finally, I suggest...
Fesenko, Elena; Edwards, Robert
Thirty years after the production of the first generation of genetically modified plants we are now set to move into a new era of recombinant crop technology through the application of synthetic biology to engineer new and complex input and output traits. The use of synthetic biology technologies will represent more than incremental additions of transgenes, but rather the directed design of completely new metabolic pathways, physiological traits, and developmental control strategies. The need to enhance our ability to improve crops through new engineering capability is now increasingly pressing as we turn to plants not just for food, but as a source of renewable feedstocks for industry. These accelerating and diversifying demands for new output traits coincide with a need to reduce inputs and improve agricultural sustainability. Faced with such challenges, existing technologies will need to be supplemented with new and far-more-directed approaches to turn valuable resources more efficiently into usable agricultural products. While these objectives are challenging enough, the use of synthetic biology in crop improvement will face public acceptance issues as a legacy of genetically modified technologies in many countries. Here we review some of the potential benefits of adopting synthetic biology approaches in improving plant input and output traits for their use as industrial chemical feedstocks, as linked to the rapidly developing biorefining industry. Several promising technologies and biotechnological targets are identified along with some of the key regulatory and societal challenges in the safe and acceptable introduction of such technology.
Sainz de Murieta, Iñaki; Bultelle, Matthieu; Kitney, Richard I
This paper describes the development of a new data acquisition standard for synthetic biology. This comprises the creation of a methodology that is designed to capture all the data, metadata, and protocol information associated with biopart characterization experiments. The new standard, called DICOM-SB, is based on the highly successful Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard in medicine. A data model is described which has been specifically developed for synthetic biology. The model is a modular, extensible data model for the experimental process, which can optimize data storage for large amounts of data. DICOM-SB also includes services orientated toward the automatic exchange of data and information between modalities and repositories. DICOM-SB has been developed in the context of systematic design in synthetic biology, which is based on the engineering principles of modularity, standardization, and characterization. The systematic design approach utilizes the design, build, test, and learn design cycle paradigm. DICOM-SB has been designed to be compatible with and complementary to other standards in synthetic biology, including SBOL. In this regard, the software provides effective interoperability. The new standard has been tested by experiments and data exchange between Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Imperial College London.
Wareham, Christopher; Nardini, Cecilia
Synthetic biology is a cutting-edge area of research that holds the promise of unprecedented health benefits. However, in tandem with these large prospective benefits, synthetic biology projects entail a risk of catastrophic consequences whose severity may exceed that of most ordinary human undertakings. This is due to the peculiar nature of synthetic biology as a 'threshold technology' which opens doors to opportunities and applications that are essentially unpredictable. Fears about these potentially unstoppable consequences have led to declarations from civil society groups calling for the use of a precautionary principle to regulate the field. Moreover, the principle is prevalent in law and international agreements. Despite widespread political recognition of a need for caution, the precautionary principle has been extensively criticized as a guide for regulatory policy. We examine a central objection to the principle: that its application entails crippling inaction and incoherence, since whatever action one takes there is always a chance that some highly improbable cataclysm will occur. In response to this difficulty, which we call the 'precautionary paradox,' we outline a deliberative means for arriving at threshold of probability below which potential dangers can be disregarded. In addition, we describe a Bayesian mechanism with which to assign probabilities to harmful outcomes. We argue that these steps resolve the paradox. The rehabilitated PP can thus provide a viable policy option to confront the uncharted waters of synthetic biology research. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Mısırlı, Göksel; Hallinan, Jennifer; Pocock, Matthew; Lord, Phillip; McLaughlin, James Alastair; Sauro, Herbert; Wipat, Anil
One aim of synthetic biologists is to create novel and predictable biological systems from simpler modular parts. This approach is currently hampered by a lack of well-defined and characterized parts and devices. However, there is a wealth of existing biological information, which can be used to identify and characterize biological parts, and their design constraints in the literature and numerous biological databases. However, this information is spread among these databases in many different formats. New computational approaches are required to make this information available in an integrated format that is more amenable to data mining. A tried and tested approach to this problem is to map disparate data sources into a single data set, with common syntax and semantics, to produce a data warehouse or knowledge base. Ontologies have been used extensively in the life sciences, providing this common syntax and semantics as a model for a given biological domain, in a fashion that is amenable to computational analysis and reasoning. Here, we present an ontology for applications in synthetic biology design, SyBiOnt, which facilitates the modeling of information about biological parts and their relationships. SyBiOnt was used to create the SyBiOntKB knowledge base, incorporating and building upon existing life sciences ontologies and standards. The reasoning capabilities of ontologies were then applied to automate the mining of biological parts from this knowledge base. We propose that this approach will be useful to speed up synthetic biology design and ultimately help facilitate the automation of the biological engineering life cycle.
Rakic, Milenko; Wienand, Isabelle; Shaw, David; Nast, Rebecca; Elger, Bernice S
We analyzed stable patients' views regarding synthetic biology in general, the medical application of synthetic biology, and their potential participation in trials of synthetic biology in particular. The aim of the study was to find out whether patients' views and preferences change after receiving more detailed information about synthetic biology and its clinical applications. The qualitative study was carried out with a purposive sample of 36 stable patients, who suffered from diabetes or gout. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, translated and fully anonymized. Thematic analysis was applied in order to examine stable patients' attitudes towards synthetic biology, its medical application, and their participation in trials. When patients were asked about synthetic biology in general, most of them were anxious that something uncontrollable could be created. After a concrete example of possible future treatment options, patients started to see synthetic biology in a more positive way. Our study constitutes an important first empirical insight into stable patients' views on synthetic biology and into the kind of fears triggered by the term "synthetic biology." Our results show that clear and concrete information can change patients' initial negative feelings towards synthetic biology. Information should thus be transmitted with great accuracy and transparency in order to reduce irrational fears of patients and to minimize the risk that researchers present facts too positively for the purposes of persuading patients to participate in clinical trials. Potential participants need to be adequately informed in order to be able to autonomously decide whether to participate in human subject research involving synthetic biology.
Diambra, Luis; Senthivel, Vivek Raj; Menendez, Diego Barcena; Isalan, Mark
It is hard to bridge the gap between mathematical formulations and biological implementations of Turing patterns, yet this is necessary for both understanding and engineering these networks with synthetic biology approaches. Here, we model a reaction-diffusion system with two morphogens in a monostable regime, inspired by components that we recently described in a synthetic biology study in mammalian cells.1 The model employs a single promoter to express both the activator and inhibitor genes and produces Turing patterns over large regions of parameter space, using biologically interpretable Hill function reactions. We applied a stability analysis and identified rules for choosing biologically tunable parameter relationships to increase the likelihood of successful patterning. We show how to control Turing pattern sizes and time evolution by manipulating the values for production and degradation relationships. More importantly, our analysis predicts that steep dose-response functions arising from cooperativity are mandatory for Turing patterns. Greater steepness increases parameter space and even reduces the requirement for differential diffusion between activator and inhibitor. These results demonstrate some of the limitations of linear scenarios for reaction-diffusion systems and will help to guide projects to engineer synthetic Turing patterns.
Karouia, Fathi; Carr, Christopher; Cai, Yizhi; Chen, Y.; Grenon, Marlene; Larios-Sanz, Maia; Jones, Jeffrey A.; Santos, Orlando
Human space travelers experience a unique environment that affects homeostasis and physiologic adaptation. Spaceflight-related changes have been reported in the musculo-skeletal, cardiovascular, neurovestibular, endocrine, and immune systems. The spacecraft environment further subjects the traveler to noise and gravitational forces, as well as airborne chemical, microbiological contaminants, and radiation exposure. As humans prepare for longer duration missions effective countermeasures must be developed, verified, and implemented to ensure mission success. Over the past ten years, synthetic biology has opened new avenues for research and development in areas such as biological control, biomaterials, sustainable energy production, bioremediation, and biomedical therapies. The latter in particular is of great interest to the implementation of long-duration human spaceflight capabilities. This article discusses the effects of spaceflight on humans, and reviews current capabilities and potential needs associated with the health of the astronauts where synthetic biology could play an important role in the pursuit of space exploration.
Jay Keasling, co-leader of Berkeley Lab's Helios Project, is a groundbreaking researcher in the new scientific field of synthetic biology. In Helios, he directs the biology program, incorporating a range of approaches to increasing the efficacy and economy of plants and cellulose-degrading microbes to make solar-based fuels. He is a UC Berkeley professor of Chemical and Bioengineering, and founder of Amyris Biotechnologies, a company that was honored as a Technology Pioneer for 2006 by the World Economic Forum. Keasling has succeeded in using synthetic biology to develop a yeast-based production scheme for precursors of the antimalarial drug artemisinin in work funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bensaude Vincent Bernadette
“Biology is Technology”, this title of a book authored by bioengineer Rob Carlson captures the essence of synthetic biology. This novel research field is in the hands of engineers, who are in charge of redesigning life or designing new forms of life for specific purposes. In the aftermath of “the century of the gene” (Evelyn Fox Keller, Cambridge Mass, Harvard University Press, 2002) he comes the century of “life by design”. As the emergence of molecular biology allowed reading the code of li...
Schmidt, Markus; Pei, Lei
This article examines the implications of synthetic biology (SB) for toxicological sciences. Starting with a working definition of SB, we describe its current subfields, namely, DNA synthesis, the engineering of DNA-based biological circuits, minimal genome research, attempts to construct protocells and synthetic cells, and efforts to diversify the biochemistry of life through xenobiology. Based on the most important techniques, tools, and expected applications in SB, we describe the ramifications of SB for toxicology under the label of synthetic toxicology. We differentiate between cases where SB offers opportunities for toxicology and where SB poses challenges for toxicology. Among the opportunities, we identified the assistance of SB to construct novel toxicity testing platforms, define new toxicity-pathway assays, explore the potential of SB to improve in vivo biotransformation of toxins, present novel biosensors developed by SB for environmental toxicology, discuss cell-free protein synthesis of toxins, reflect on the contribution to toxic use reduction, and the democratization of toxicology through do-it-yourself biology. Among the identified challenges for toxicology, we identify synthetic toxins and novel xenobiotics, biosecurity and dual-use considerations, the potential bridging of toxic substances and infectious agents, and do-it-yourself toxin production.
Current ethical analysis tends to evaluate synthetic biology at an overview level. Synthetic biology, however, is an umbrella term that covers a variety of areas of research. These areas contain, in turn, a hierarchy of different research fields. This abstraction hierarchy-the term is borrowed from engineering-permits synthetic biologists to specialise to a very high degree. Though synthetic biology per se may create profound ethical challenges, much of the day-to-day research does not. Yet seemingly innocuous research could lead to ethically problematic results. For example, Dolly the sheep resulted from a long series of research steps, none of which presented any ethical problems. The atomic bomb was developed as a result of Einstein's uncontentions theoretical research that proved the equivalence of matter and energy. Therefore it would seem wise for ethicists to evaluate synbio research across its subfields and through its abstraction hierarchies, comparing and inter-relating the various areas of research. In addition, it would be useful if journals that publish synbio papers require an ethical statement from authors, as standard practice, so as to encourage scientists to constantly engage with ethical issues in their work. Also, this would allow an ethical snapshot of the state of the research at any given time to exist, allowing for accurate evaluation by scientists and ethicists, regulators and policymakers.
Slomovic, Shimyn; Pardee, Keith; Collins, James J
There is a growing need to enhance our capabilities in medical and environmental diagnostics. Synthetic biologists have begun to focus their biomolecular engineering approaches toward this goal, offering promising results that could lead to the development of new classes of inexpensive, rapidly deployable diagnostics. Many conventional diagnostics rely on antibody-based platforms that, although exquisitely sensitive, are slow and costly to generate and cannot readily confront rapidly emerging pathogens or be applied to orphan diseases. Synthetic biology, with its rational and short design-to-production cycles, has the potential to overcome many of these limitations. Synthetic biology devices, such as engineered gene circuits, bring new capabilities to molecular diagnostics, expanding the molecular detection palette, creating dynamic sensors, and untethering reactions from laboratory equipment. The field is also beginning to move toward in vivo diagnostics, which could provide near real-time surveillance of multiple pathological conditions. Here, we describe current efforts in synthetic biology, focusing on the translation of promising technologies into pragmatic diagnostic tools and platforms.
Meintjes, Jennifer; Yan, Sheng; Zhou, Lin; Zheng, Shusen; Zheng, Minghao
The reconstruction of abdominal wall defects remains a huge surgical challenge. Tension-free repair is proven to be superior to suture repair in abdominal wall reconstruction. Scaffolds are essential for tension-free repair. They are used to bridge a defect or reinforce the abdominal wall. A huge variety of scaffolds are now commercially available. Most of the synthetic scaffolds are composed of polypropylene. They provide strong tissue reinforcement, but cause a foreign body reaction, which can result in serious complications. Absorbable synthetic scaffolds, such as Dexon™ (polyglycolic acid) and Vicryl™ (polyglactin 910), are not suitable for abdominal wall reconstruction as they usually require subsequent surgeries to repair recurrent hernias. Composite scaffolds combine the strength of nonabsorbable synthetic scaffolds with the antiadhesive properties of the absorbable scaffold, but require long-term follow-up. Biological scaffolds, such as Permacol™, Surgisis(®) and Alloderm(®), are derived from acellular mammalian tissues. Non-cross-linked biological scaffolds show excellent biocompatibility and degrade slowly over time. However, remnant DNA has been found in several products and the degradation leads to recurrence. Randomized controlled trials with long-term follow-up studies are lacking for all of the available scaffolds, particularly those derived from animal tissue. This article provides an overview of the different types of scaffolds available, and presents the key clinical studies of the commercially available synthetic, composite and biological scaffolds for abdominal wall reconstruction.
Brown, Adam J; James, David C
The next generation of mammalian cell factories for biopharmaceutical production will be genetically engineered to possess both generic and product-specific manufacturing capabilities that may not exist naturally. Introduction of entirely new combinations of synthetic functions (e.g. novel metabolic or stress-response pathways), and retro-engineering of existing functional cell modules will drive disruptive change in cellular manufacturing performance. However, before we can apply the core concepts underpinning synthetic biology (design, build, test) to CHO cell engineering we must first develop practical and robust enabling technologies. Fundamentally, we will require the ability to precisely control the relative stoichiometry of numerous functional components we simultaneously introduce into the host cell factory. In this review we discuss how this can be achieved by design of engineered promoters that enable concerted control of recombinant gene transcription. We describe the specific mechanisms of transcriptional regulation that affect promoter function during bioproduction processes, and detail the highly-specific promoter design criteria that are required in the context of CHO cell engineering. The relative applicability of diverse promoter development strategies are discussed, including re-engineering of natural sequences, design of synthetic transcription factor-based systems, and construction of synthetic promoters. This review highlights the potential of promoter engineering to achieve precision transcriptional control for CHO cell synthetic biology. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Fletcher, Eugene; Krivoruchko, Anastasia; Nielsen, Jens
Engineering industrial cell factories to effectively yield a desired product while dealing with industrially relevant stresses is usually the most challenging step in the development of industrial production of chemicals using microbial fermentation processes. Using synthetic biology tools...
Yang, Xue; Beason-Held, Lori; Resnick, Susan M; Landman, Bennett A
Mapping the quantitative relationship between structure and function in the human brain is an important and challenging problem. Numerous volumetric, surface, regions of interest and voxelwise image processing techniques have been developed to statistically assess potential correlations between imaging and non-imaging metrices. Recently, biological parametric mapping has extended the widely popular statistical parametric mapping approach to enable application of the general linear model to multiple image modalities (both for regressors and regressands) along with scalar valued observations. This approach offers great promise for direct, voxelwise assessment of structural and functional relationships with multiple imaging modalities. However, as presented, the biological parametric mapping approach is not robust to outliers and may lead to invalid inferences (e.g., artifactual low p-values) due to slight mis-registration or variation in anatomy between subjects. To enable widespread application of this approach, we introduce robust regression and non-parametric regression in the neuroimaging context of application of the general linear model. Through simulation and empirical studies, we demonstrate that our robust approach reduces sensitivity to outliers without substantial degradation in power. The robust approach and associated software package provide a reliable way to quantitatively assess voxelwise correlations between structural and functional neuroimaging modalities. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Natalie Ramos Pedroza; William MacKunis; Golubev, Vladimir V.
In this paper, a synthetic jet actuators (SJA)-based nonlinear robust controller is developed, which is capable of completely suppressing limit cycle oscillations (LCO) in UAV systems with parametric uncertainty in the SJA dynamics and unmodeled external disturbances. Specifically, the control law compensates for uncertainty in an input gain matrix, which results from the unknown airflow dynamics generated by the SJA. Challenges in the control design include compensation for input-multiplicat...
Shih, Patrick M; Liang, Yan; Loqué, Dominique
The Green Revolution has fuelled an exponential growth in human population since the mid-20th century. Due to population growth, food and energy demands will soon surpass supply capabilities. To overcome these impending problems, significant improvements in genetic engineering will be needed to complement breeding efforts in order to accelerate the improvement of agronomical traits. The new field of plant synthetic biology has emerged in recent years and is expected to support rapid, precise, and robust engineering of plants. In this review, we present recent advances made in the field of plant synthetic biology, specifically in genome editing, transgene expression regulation, and bioenergy crop engineering, with a focus on traits related to lignocellulose, oil, and soluble sugars. Ultimately, progress and innovation in these fields may facilitate the development of beneficial traits in crop plants to meet society's bioenergy needs.
Full Text Available Chemical conversions mediated by microorganisms, otherwise known as microbial biotransformations, are playing an increasingly important role within the biotechnology industry. Unfortunately, the growth and production of microorganisms are often hampered by a number of stressful conditions emanating from environment fluctuations and/or metabolic imbalances such as high temperature, high salt condition, strongly acidic solution and presence of toxic metabolites. Therefore, exploring methods to improve the stress tolerance of host organisms could significantly improve the biotransformation process. With the help of synthetic biology, it is now becoming feasible to implement strategies to improve the stress-resistance of the existing hosts. This review summarizes synthetic biology efforts to enhance the efficiency of biotransformations by improving the robustness of microbes. Particular attention will be given to strategies at the cellular and the microbial community levels.
Laura R. Jarboe
Full Text Available Production of fuels and chemicals through microbial fermentation of plant material is a desirable alternative to petrochemical-based production. Fermentative production of biorenewable fuels and chemicals requires the engineering of biocatalysts that can quickly and efficiently convert sugars to target products at a cost that is competitive with existing petrochemical-based processes. It is also important that biocatalysts be robust to extreme fermentation conditions, biomass-derived inhibitors, and their target products. Traditional metabolic engineering has made great advances in this area, but synthetic biology has contributed and will continue to contribute to this field, particularly with next-generation biofuels. This work reviews the use of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology in biocatalyst engineering for biorenewable fuels and chemicals production, such as ethanol, butanol, acetate, lactate, succinate, alanine, and xylitol. We also examine the existing challenges in this area and discuss strategies for improving biocatalyst tolerance to chemical inhibitors.
Way, Jeffrey C; Collins, James J; Keasling, Jay D; Silver, Pamela A
Synthetic biology seeks to extend approaches from engineering and computation to redesign of biology, with goals such as generating new chemicals, improving human health, and addressing environmental issues. Early on, several guiding principles of synthetic biology were articulated, including design according to specification, separation of design from fabrication, use of standardized biological parts and organisms, and abstraction. We review the utility of these principles over the past decade in light of the field's accomplishments in building complex systems based on microbial transcription and metabolism and describe the progress in mammalian cell engineering.
Vial, Laurent; Ludlow, R Frederick; Leclaire, Julien; Pérez-Fernandez, Ruth; Otto, Sijbren
Polyamines play an important role in biology, yet their exact function in many processes is poorly understood. Artificial host molecules capable of sequestering polyamines could be useful tools for studying their cellular function. However, designing synthetic receptors with affinities sufficient to compete with biological polyamine receptors remains a huge challenge. Binding affinities of synthetic hosts are typically separated by a gap of several orders of magnitude from those of biomolecules. We now report that a dynamic combinatorial selection approach can deliver a synthetic receptor that bridges this gap. The selected receptor binds spermine with a dissociation constant of 22 nM, sufficient to remove it from its natural host DNA and reverse some of the biological effects of spermine on the nucleic acid. In low concentrations, spermine induces the formation of left-handed DNA, but upon addition of our receptor, the DNA reverts back to its right-handed form. NMR studies and computer simulations suggest that the spermine complex has the form of a pseudo-rotaxane. The spermine receptor is a promising lead for the development of therapeutics or molecular probes for elucidating spermine's role in cell biology.
Riccione, Katherine A; Smith, Robert P; Lee, Anna J; You, Lingchong
The survival of cells and organisms requires proper responses to environmental signals. These responses are governed by cellular networks, which serve to process diverse environmental cues. Biological networks often contain recurring network topologies called "motifs". It has been recognized that the study of such motifs allows one to predict the response of a biological network and thus cellular behavior. However, studying a single motif in complete isolation of all other network motifs in a natural setting is difficult. Synthetic biology has emerged as a powerful approach to understanding the dynamic properties of network motifs. In addition to testing existing theoretical predictions, construction and analysis of synthetic gene circuits has led to the discovery of novel motif dynamics, such as how the combination of simple motifs can lead to autonomous dynamics or how noise in transcription and translation can affect the dynamics of a motif. Here, we review developments in synthetic biology as they pertain to increasing our understanding of cellular information processing. We highlight several types of dynamic behaviors that diverse motifs can generate, including the control of input/output responses, the generation of autonomous spatial and temporal dynamics, as well as the influence of noise in motif dynamics and cellular behavior.
Myers, Chris J; Beal, Jacob; Gorochowski, Thomas E; Kuwahara, Hiroyuki; Madsen, Curtis; McLaughlin, James Alastair; Mısırlı, Göksel; Nguyen, Tramy; Oberortner, Ernst; Samineni, Meher; Wipat, Anil; Zhang, Michael; Zundel, Zach
A synthetic biology workflow is composed of data repositories that provide information about genetic parts, sequence-level design tools to compose these parts into circuits, visualization tools to depict these designs, genetic design tools to select parts to create systems, and modeling and simulation tools to evaluate alternative design choices. Data standards enable the ready exchange of information within such a workflow, allowing repositories and tools to be connected from a diversity of sources. The present paper describes one such workflow that utilizes, among others, the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) to describe genetic designs, the Systems Biology Markup Language to model these designs, and SBOL Visual to visualize these designs. We describe how a standard-enabled workflow can be used to produce types of design information, including multiple repositories and software tools exchanging information using a variety of data standards. Recently, the ACS Synthetic Biology journal has recommended the use of SBOL in their publications. © 2017 The Author(s); published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
The unpredictability and complexity of biological systems limit the development of economically efficient bio-based production processes that rely on renewable carbon sources and are essential for biosustainability and environmental protection. Synthetic biology (synbio) aims at making biology...... easier to engineer and addresses these challenges.The ability to systematically construct, modify and tune biological systems from fully characterized biological components, or parts, is crucial to the success of synbio projects. This thesis aims at contributing to standardization and part sharing...... with the development and improvement of DNA editing strategies,compatible with other DNA assembly methodologies, genome engineering and,eventually, automation processes. Expanding and optimizing the synbio toolkit has important applications in pathway optimization for metabolic engineering, design and characterization...
Schreiber, Falk; Bader, Gary D; Golebiewski, Martin; Hucka, Michael; Kormeier, Benjamin; Le Novère, Nicolas; Myers, Chris; Nickerson, David; Sommer, Björn; Waltemath, Dagmar; Weise, Stephan
Standards shape our everyday life. From nuts and bolts to electronic devices and technological processes, standardised products and processes are all around us. Standards have technological and economic benefits, such as making information exchange, production, and services more efficient. However, novel, innovative areas often either lack proper standards, or documents about standards in these areas are not available from a centralised platform or formal body (such as the International Standardisation Organisation). Systems and synthetic biology is a relatively novel area, and it is only in the last decade that the standardisation of data, information, and models related to systems and synthetic biology has become a community-wide effort. Several open standards have been established and are under continuous development as a community initiative. COMBINE, the ‘COmputational Modeling in BIology’ NEtwork has been established as an umbrella initiative to coordinate and promote the development of the various community standards and formats for computational models. There are yearly two meeting, HARMONY (Hackathons on Resources for Modeling in Biology), Hackathon-type meetings with a focus on development of the support for standards, and COMBINE forums, workshop-style events with oral presentations, discussion, poster, and breakout sessions for further developing the standards. For more information see http://co.mbine.org/. So far the different standards were published and made accessible through the standards’ web- pages or preprint services. The aim of this special issue is to provide a single, easily accessible and citable platform for the publication of standards in systems and synthetic biology. This special issue is intended to serve as a central access point to standards and related initiatives in systems and synthetic biology, it will be published annually to provide an opportunity for standard development groups to communicate updated specifications.
Natalie Ramos Pedroza
Full Text Available In this paper, a synthetic jet actuators (SJA-based nonlinear robust controller is developed, which is capable of completely suppressing limit cycle oscillations (LCO in UAV systems with parametric uncertainty in the SJA dynamics and unmodeled external disturbances. Specifically, the control law compensates for uncertainty in an input gain matrix, which results from the unknown airflow dynamics generated by the SJA. Challenges in the control design include compensation for input-multiplicative parametric uncertainty in the actuator dynamic model. The result was achieved via innovative algebraic manipulation in the error system development, along with a Lyapunov-based robust control law. A rigorous Lyapunov-based stability analysis is utilized to prove asymptotic LCO suppression, considering a detailed dynamic model of the pitching and plunging dynamics. Numerical simulation results are provided to demonstrate the robustness and practical performance of the proposed control law.
Full Text Available Cyanobacteria and algae are becoming increasingly attractive cell factories for producing renewable biofuels and chemicals due to their ability to capture solar energy and CO2 and their relatively simple genetic background for genetic manipulation. Increasing research efforts from the synthetic biology approach have been made in recent years to modify cyanobacteria and algae for various biotechnological applications. In the article, we critically review recent progresses in developing genetic tools for characterizing or manipulating cyanobacteria and algae, the applications of genetically modified strains for synthesizing renewable products such as biofuels and chemicals. In addition, the emergent challenges in the development and application of synthetic biology for cyanobacteria and algae are also discussed.
Erickson, Brent; Singh, Rina; Winters, Paul
In our view, synthetic biology is an extension of the continuum of genetic science that has been used safely for more than 40 years by the biotechnology industry in the development of commercial products. Examples of synthetic biology use by biotechnology companies illustrate the potential to substantially reduce research and development time and to increase speed to market. Improvements in the speed and cost of DNA synthesis are enabling scientists to design modified bacterial chromosomes that can be used in the production of renewable chemicals, biofuels, bioproducts, renewable specialty chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediates, fine chemicals, food ingredients, and health care products. Regulatory options should support innovation and commercial development of new products while protecting the public from potential harms.
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley's classic tale of horror, warns of the perils of hubris: of the terrible fate that awaits when Man plays God and attempts to create life. Molecular biologists are clearly not listening. Not content with merely inserting the occasional gene into the genome of an existing organism. they are developing a whole new field, Synthetic Biology, which aims to engineer from first principles organisms with desirable, controllable qualities.
Voigt, Christopher [Massachusetts Institute of Technology
SEED2014 focused on advances in the science and technology emerging from the field of synthetic biology. We broadly define this as technologies that accelerate the process of genetic engineering. It highlighted new tool development, as well as the application of these tools to diverse problems in biotechnology, including therapeutics, industrial chemicals and fuels, natural products, and agriculture. Systems spanned from in vitro experiments and viruses, through diverse bacteria, to eukaryotes (yeast, mammalian cells, plants).
Levskaya, Anselm; Chevalier, Aaron A; Tabor, Jeffrey J; Simpson, Zachary Booth; Lavery, Laura A; Levy, Matthew; Davidson, Eric A; Scouras, Alexander; Ellington, Andrew D; Marcotte, Edward M; Voigt, Christopher A
We have designed a bacterial system that is switched between different states by red light. The system consists of a synthetic sensor kinase that allows a lawn of bacteria to function as a biological film, such that the projection of a pattern of light on to the bacteria produces a high-definition (about 100 megapixels per square inch), two-dimensional chemical image. This spatial control of bacterial gene expression could be used to 'print' complex biological materials, for example, and to investigate signalling pathways through precise spatial and temporal control of their phosphorylation steps.
Wu, Fan; Tan, Cheemeng
Artificial cellular systems are minimal systems that mimic certain properties of natural cells, including signaling pathways, membranes, and metabolic pathways. These artificial cells (or protocells) can be constructed following a synthetic biology approach by assembling biomembranes, synthetic gene circuits, and cell-free expression systems. As artificial cells are built from bottom-up using minimal and a defined number of components, they are more amenable to predictive mathematical modeling and engineered controls when compared with natural cells. Indeed, artificial cells have been implemented as drug delivery machineries and in situ protein expression systems. Furthermore, artificial cells have been used as biomimetic systems to unveil new insights into functions of natural cells, which are otherwise difficult to investigate owing to their inherent complexity. It is our vision that the development of artificial cells would bring forth parallel advancements in synthetic biology, cell-free systems, and in vitro systems biology. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Conflict of interests: The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Macnaghten, Phil; Owen, Richard; Jackson, Roland
In this article we provide a short review of the debate on responsible innovation and its intersection with synthetic biology, focusing on initiatives we have witnessed and been involved with in the UK. First, we describe the ways in which responsibility in science has been reconfigured institutionally, from an internal focus on the provision of objective and reliable knowledge, to a more external view that embraces the ways in which it has an impact on society. Secondly, we introduce a framework for responsible innovation as a (partial) response to this shift, highlighting its constituent dimensions and the capacities and competencies that are needed to put it into practice. Thirdly, we chart the development of social science research on synthetic biology, addressing its evolution from an 'ethical, legal and social implications' (ELSI) frame to a responsible innovation frame. Fourthly, we review findings from UK social science research with the synthetic biology community setting out challenges for productive collaboration. And finally, we conclude with suggestions on the need for changes in institutional governance. © 2016 The Author(s). published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
de Lorenzo, Víctor
Every descriptive language is not only metaphoric and interpretative, but it is also developed (or adopted) ad hoc to fulfill a certain agenda. Even the hardcore scientific languages of mathematics and physics are not entirely neutral--let alone the much softer terminology of biology. We use metaphors all the time in science and that is useful as long as they serve their purpose well and we are aware of them. But it is a serious mistake to identify uncritically the thing and the metaphors employed to bring the thing to mind. I address here two of the most sparkling metaphors brought about by synthetic biology: chassis and orthogonality--the first borrowed instance from engineering of vehicles, and the second from computer terminology (itself borrowed from mathematics). For the sake of simplicity the discussion is limited to the connotation of these two concepts in the prokaryotic realm. The power of such metaphors from describing the state of affairs in synthetic biology and for setting a vigorous research and technology schedule is analyzed. Awareness of the meta-languages and allegories that are being adopted by the SB community should help to frame other controversial concepts such as artificial cells or synthetic life.
Matson, Stephen L.
Conventional synthetic membranes, fashioned for the most part from rather unremarkable polymeric materials, are essentially passive structures that achieve various industrial and biomedical separations through simple and selective membrane permeation processes. Indeed, simplicity of membrane material, structure, and function has long been perceived as a virtue of membranes relative to other separation processes with which they compete. The passive membrane separation processes -- exemplified by micro- and ultrafiltration, dialysis, reverse osmosis, and gas permeation -- differ from one another primarily in terms of membrane morphology or structure (e.g., porous, gel-type, and nonporous) and the permeant transport mechanism and driving force (e.g., diffusion, convection, and 'solution/diffusion'). The passive membrane separation processes have in common the fact that interaction between permeant and membrane material is typically weak and physicochemical in nature; indeed, it is frequently an objective of membrane materials design to minimize interaction between permeant and membrane polymer, since such strategies can minimize membrane fouling. As a consequence, conventional membrane processes often provide only modest separation factors or permselectivities; that is, they are more useful in performing 'group separations' (i.e., the separation of different classes of material) than they are in fractionating species within a given class. It has long been recognized within the community of membrane technologists that biological membrane structures and their components are extraordinarily sophisticated and powerful as compared to their synthetic counterparts. Moreover, biomembranes and related biological systems have been 'designed' according to a very different paradigm -- one that frequently maximizes and capitalizes on extraordinarily strong and biochemically specific interactions between components of the membrane and species interacting with them. Thus, in recent
Campbell, A. Malcolm; Eckdahl, Todd; Cronk, Brian; Andresen, Corinne; Frederick, Paul; Huckuntod, Samantha; Shinneman, Claire; Wacker, Annie; Yuan, Jason
The "Vision and Change" report recommended genuine research experiences for undergraduate biology students. Authentic research improves science education, increases the number of scientifically literate citizens, and encourages students to pursue research. Synthetic biology is well suited for undergraduate research and is a growing area…
Campbell, A. Malcolm; Eckdahl, Todd; Cronk, Brian; Andresen, Corinne; Frederick, Paul; Huckuntod, Samantha; Shinneman, Claire; Wacker, Annie; Yuan, Jason
The "Vision and Change" report recommended genuine research experiences for undergraduate biology students. Authentic research improves science education, increases the number of scientifically literate citizens, and encourages students to pursue research. Synthetic biology is well suited for undergraduate research and is a growing area…
Roehner, Nicholas; Zhang, Zhen; Nguyen, Tramy; Myers, Chris J
In the context of synthetic biology, model generation is the automated process of constructing biochemical models based on genetic designs. This paper discusses the use cases for model generation in genetic design automation (GDA) software tools and introduces the foundational concepts of standards and model annotation that make this process useful. Finally, this paper presents an implementation of model generation in the GDA software tool iBioSim and provides an example of generating a Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) model from a design of a 4-input AND sensor written in the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL).
Synthetic biology is a relatively new science with tremendous potential to change how we view and know the life sciences, but like many developing technologies, it has provoked ethical concerns from the scientific community and the public and confronts demands for new regulatory measures. The concerns raised involve the danger of "dual use," in which results for improving human well-being and the environment may be misappropriated for bioterror. To counteract these dangers, many governments, but the United States and Israel in particular, have introduced new laws and redoubled measures for biosafety and biosecurity. In the United States, the recent H5N1 results achieved by two groups of NIH-funded investigators highlighted the dilemma of balancing the risk of dual-use research and the freedom of science. In Israel, concern for unconventional terrorism is long-standing, and the country is constantly engaged in improving biosecurity and biodefense measures. In 2008, the Israeli parliament passed the Regulation of Research into Biological Disease Agents Law, a legislative framework for safeguarding research into biological disease agents. This article summarizes and analyzes the current state of affairs in the United States and Israel, ethical attitudes, and regulatory responses to synthetic biology.
Khalil, Ahmad S.; Lu, Timothy K.; Bashor, Caleb J.; Ramirez, Cherie L.; Pyenson, Nora C.; Joung, J. Keith; Collins, James J.
SUMMARY Eukaryotic transcription factors (TFs) perform complex and combinatorial functions within transcriptional networks. Here, we present a synthetic framework for systematically constructing eukaryotic transcription functions using artificial zinc fingers, modular DNA-binding domains found within many eukaryotic TFs. Utilizing this platform, we construct a library of orthogonal synthetic transcription factors (sTFs) and use these to wire synthetic transcriptional circuits in yeast. We engineer complex functions, such as tunable output strength and transcriptional cooperativity, by rationally adjusting a decomposed set of key component properties, e.g., DNA specificity, affinity, promoter design, protein-protein interactions. We show that subtle perturbations to these properties can transform an individual sTF between distinct roles (activator, cooperative factor, inhibitory factor) within a transcriptional complex, thus drastically altering the signal processing behavior of multi-input systems. This platform provides new genetic components for synthetic biology and enables bottom-up approaches to understanding the design principles of eukaryotic transcriptional complexes and networks. PMID:22863014
Synthetic Biology is currently presented as an emergent field involving the application of engineering principles to living matter. However, the scientific pursuit of making life in a laboratory is not new and has been the ultimate, if somewhat distant, aim of the origin-of-life research program for many years. Actually, over a century ago, the idea that the synthesis of life was indispensable to fully understand its nature already appealed to material scientists and evolutionists alike. Jacques Loeb proposed a research program from an engineering standpoint, following a synthetic method (experimental abiogenesis) and based on his mechanist vision of living beings, which he considered true chemical machines. Early synthetic biology endeavors, such as the premature experiments by Alfonso L. Herrera in Mexico, Stéphane Leduc in France, and John B. Burke in United Kingdom, were easily ridiculed on both scientific and ideological grounds. However, in retrospect, all those attempts should be considered as legitimate and sincere anti-vitalistic efforts to cross the apparent border between inert and living matter.
Sorg, Robin A; Kuipers, Oscar P; Veening, Jan-Willem
The human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a bacterium that owes its success to complex gene expression regulation patterns on both the cellular and the population level. Expression of virulence factors enables a mostly hazard-free presence of the commensal, in balance with the host and niche competitors. Under specific circumstances, changes in this expression can result in a more aggressive behavior and the reversion to the invasive form as pathogen. These triggering conditions are very difficult to study due to the fact that environmental cues are often unknown or barely possible to simulate outside the host (in vitro). An alternative way of investigating expression patterns is found in synthetic biology approaches of reconstructing regulatory networks that mimic an observed behavior with orthogonal components. Here, we created a genetic platform suitable for synthetic biology approaches in S. pneumoniae and characterized a set of standardized promoters and reporters. We show that our system allows for fast and easy cloning with the BglBrick system and that reliable and robust gene expression after integration into the S. pneumoniae genome is achieved. In addition, the cloning system was extended to allow for direct linker-based assembly of ribosome binding sites, peptide tags, and fusion proteins, and we called this new generally applicable standard "BglFusion". The gene expression platform and the methods described in this study pave the way for employing synthetic biology approaches in S. pneumoniae.
Feng, Dawei; Wang, Kecheng; Wei, Zhangwen; Chen, Ying-Pin; Simon, Cory M.; Arvapally, Ravi K.; Martin, Richard L.; Bosch, Mathieu; Liu, Tian-Fu; Fordham, Stephen; Yuan, Daqiang; Omary, Mohammad A.; Haranczyk, Maciej; Smit, Berend; Zhou, Hong-Cai
Metal-organic frameworks with high stability have been pursued for many years due to the sustainability requirement for practical applications. However, researchers have had great difficulty synthesizing chemically ultra-stable, highly porous metal-organic frameworks in the form of crystalline solids, especially as single crystals. Here we present a kinetically tuned dimensional augmentation synthetic route for the preparation of highly crystalline and extremely robust metal-organic frameworks with a preserved metal cluster core. Through this versatile synthetic route, we obtain large single crystals of 34 different iron-containing metal-organic frameworks. Among them, PCN-250(Fe2Co) exhibits high volumetric uptake of hydrogen and methane, and is also stable in water and aqueous solutions with a wide range of pH values.
Feng, Dawei; Wang, Kecheng; Wei, Zhangwen; Chen, Ying-Pin; Simon, Cory M; Arvapally, Ravi K; Martin, Richard L; Bosch, Mathieu; Liu, Tian-Fu; Fordham, Stephen; Yuan, Daqiang; Omary, Mohammad A; Haranczyk, Maciej; Smit, Berend; Zhou, Hong-Cai
Metal-organic frameworks with high stability have been pursued for many years due to the sustainability requirement for practical applications. However, researchers have had great difficulty synthesizing chemically ultra-stable, highly porous metal-organic frameworks in the form of crystalline solids, especially as single crystals. Here we present a kinetically tuned dimensional augmentation synthetic route for the preparation of highly crystalline and extremely robust metal-organic frameworks with a preserved metal cluster core. Through this versatile synthetic route, we obtain large single crystals of 34 different iron-containing metal-organic frameworks. Among them, PCN-250(Fe2Co) exhibits high volumetric uptake of hydrogen and methane, and is also stable in water and aqueous solutions with a wide range of pH values.
Linshiz, Gregory; Goldberg, Alex; Konry, Tania; Hillson, Nathan J
Synthetic biology is a nascent field that emerged in earnest only around the turn of the millennium. It aims to engineer new biological systems and impart new biological functionality, often through genetic modifications. The design and construction of new biological systems is a complex, multistep process, requiring multidisciplinary collaborative efforts from "fusion" scientists who have formal training in computer science or engineering, as well as hands-on biological expertise. The public has high expectations for synthetic biology and eagerly anticipates the development of solutions to the major challenges facing humanity. This article discusses laboratory practices and the conduct of research in synthetic biology. It argues that the fusion science approach, which integrates biology with computer science and engineering best practices, including standardization, process optimization, computer-aided design and laboratory automation, miniaturization, and systematic management, will increase the predictability and reproducibility of experiments and lead to breakthroughs in the construction of new biological systems. The article also discusses several successful fusion projects, including the development of software tools for DNA construction design automation, recursive DNA construction, and the development of integrated microfluidics systems.
Chuang, Chia-Hua; Lin, Chun-Liang; Chang, Yen-Chang; Jennawasin, Tanagorn; Chen, Po-Kuei
The construction of an artificial biological logic circuit using systematic strategy is recognised as one of the most important topics for the development of synthetic biology. In this study, a real-structured genetic algorithm (RSGA), which combines general advantages of the traditional real genetic algorithm with those of the structured genetic algorithm, is proposed to deal with the biological logic circuit design problem. A general model with the cis-regulatory input function and appropriate promoter activity functions is proposed to synthesise a wide variety of fundamental logic gates such as NOT, Buffer, AND, OR, NAND, NOR and XOR. The results obtained can be extended to synthesise advanced combinational and sequential logic circuits by topologically distinct connections. The resulting optimal design of these logic gates and circuits are established via the RSGA. The in silico computer-based modelling technology has been verified showing its great advantages in the purpose.
Gentry, Diana; Micks, Ashley
Many complex, biologically-derived materials have extremely useful properties (think wood or silk), but are unsuitable for space-related applications due to production, manufacturing, or processing limitations. Large-scale ecosystem-based production, such as raising and harvesting trees for wood, is impractical in a self-contained habitat such as a space station or potential Mars colony. Manufacturing requirements, such as the specialized equipment needed to harvest and process cotton, add too much upmass for current launch technology. Cells in nature are already highly specialized for making complex biological materials on a micro scale. We envision combining these strengths with the recently emergent technologies of synthetic biology and 3D printing to create 3D-structured arrays of cells that are bioengineered to secrete different materials in a specified three-dimensional pattern.
Otero-Muras, Irene; Banga, Julio R
In this work we consider Pareto optimality for automated design in synthetic biology. We present a generalized framework based on a mixed-integer dynamic optimization formulation that, given design specifications, allows the computation of Pareto optimal sets of designs, that is, the set of best trade-offs for the metrics of interest. We show how this framework can be used for (i) forward design, that is, finding the Pareto optimal set of synthetic designs for implementation, and (ii) reverse design, that is, analyzing and inferring motifs and/or design principles of gene regulatory networks from the Pareto set of optimal circuits. Finally, we illustrate the capabilities and performance of this framework considering four case studies. In the first problem we consider the forward design of an oscillator. In the remaining problems, we illustrate how to apply the reverse design approach to find motifs for stripe formation, rapid adaption, and fold-change detection, respectively.
Martin, Collin H; Nielsen, David R; Solomon, Kevin V; Prather, Kristala L Jones
Biocatalysis has become a powerful tool for the synthesis of high-value compounds, particularly so in the case of highly functionalized and/or stereoactive products. Nature has supplied thousands of enzymes and assembled them into numerous metabolic pathways. Although these native pathways can be use to produce natural bioproducts, there are many valuable and useful compounds that have no known natural biochemical route. Consequently, there is a need for both unnatural metabolic pathways and novel enzymatic activities upon which these pathways can be built. Here, we review the theoretical and experimental strategies for engineering synthetic metabolic pathways at the protein and pathway scales, and highlight the challenges that this subfield of synthetic biology currently faces.
Zhuo, Ying; Zhang, Tao; Wang, Qi; Cruz-Morales, Pablo; Zhang, Buchang; Liu, Mei; Barona-Gómez, Francisco; Zhang, Lixin
Natural products are still key sources of current clinical drugs and innovative therapeutic agents. Since wild-type microorganisms only produce natural products in very small quantities, yields of production strains need to be improved by breaking down the precise genetic and biochemical circuitry. Herein, we use avermectins as an example of production improvement and chemical structure diversification by synthetic biology. Avermectins are macrocyclic lactones produced by Streptomyces avermitilis and are well known and widely used for antiparasitic therapy. Given the importance of this molecule and its derivatives, many efforts and strategies were employed to improve avermectin production and generate new active analogues. This review describes the current status of synthetic strategies successfully applied for developing natural-product-producing strains and discusses future prospects for the application of enhanced avermectin production. Copyright © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Marcio F. Chedid
Full Text Available Arterial conduits are necessary in nearly 5% of all liver transplants and are usually constructed utilizing segments of donor iliac artery. However, available segments of donor iliac artery may not be lengthy enough or may not possess enough quality to enable its inclusion in the conduit. Although there are few reports of arterial conduits constructed solely utilizing prosthetic material, no previous reports of conduits composed of a segment of donor iliac artery and prosthetic material (mixed biologic and synthetic arterial conduits were found in the medial literature to date. Two cases reporting successful outcomes after creation of mixed biologic and prosthetic arterial conduits are outlined in this report. Reason for creation of conduits was complete intimal dissection of the recipient’s hepatic artery in both cases. In both cases, available segments of donor iliac artery were not lengthy enough to bridge infrarenal aorta to porta hepatis. Both patients have patent conduits and normally functioning liver allografts, respectively, at 4 and 31 months after transplant. Mixed biologic and synthetic arterial conduits constitute a viable technical option and may offer potential advantages over fully prosthetic arterial conduits.
The third meeting organised by the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) on advances in Applied Synthetic Biotechnology in Europe (ASBE) was held in Costa da Caparica, Portugal, in February 2016. Abundant novel applications in synthetic biology were described in the six sessions of the meeting, which was divided into technology and tools for synthetic biology (I, II and III), bionanoscience, biosynthetic pathways and enzyme synthetic biology, and metabolic engineering and chemical manufacturing. The meeting presented numerous methods for the development of novel synthetic strains, synthetic biological tools and synthetic biology applications. With the aid of synthetic biology, production costs of chemicals, metabolites and food products are expected to decrease, by generating sustainable biochemical production of such resources. Also, such synthetic biological advances could be applied for medical purposes, as in pharmaceuticals and for biosensors. Recurrent, linked themes throughout the meeting were the shortage of resources, the world's transition into a bioeconomy, and how synthetic biology is helping tackle these issues through cutting-edge technologies. While there are still limitations in synthetic biology research, innovation is propelling the development of technology, the standardisation of synthetic biological tools and the use of suitable host organisms. These developments are laying a foundation to providing a future where cutting-edge research could generate potential solutions to society's pressing issues, thus incentivising a transition into a bioeconomy.
Menghua Man; Shanghe Liu; Xiaolong Chang; Mai Lu
In the ongoing evolutionary process,biological systems have displayed a fundamental and remarkable property of robustness,i.e.,the property allows the system to maintain its functions despite external and internal perturbations.Redundancy and degeneracy are thought to be the underlying structural mechanisms of biological robustness.Inspired by this,we explored the proximate cause of the immunity of the synthetic evolved digital circuits to ESD interference and discussed the biological characteristics behind the evolutionary circuits.First,we proposed an evolutionary method for intrinsic immune circuit design.The circuits' immunity was evaluated using the functional fault models based on probability distributions.Then,several benchmark circuits,including ADDER,MAJORITY,and C17,were evolved for high intrinsic immunity.Finally,using the quantitative definitions based on information theory,we measured the topological characteristics of redundancy and degeneracy in the evolved circuits and compared their contributions to the immunity.The results show that redundant elements are necessary for the ESD immune circuit design,whereas degeneracy is the key to making use of the redundancy robustly and efficiently.
Minssen, Timo; Rutz, Berthold; van Zimmeren, Esther
for a definition that enables risk assessment.In order to promote an adequate development of SB that will secure innovation and cooperation and prevent fragmentation, it is important to identify and assess new risks and other issues early on to enable scientists, industry, funding agencies and other stakeholders......In September 2014 the European Commission’s Scientific Committees published a Final Opinion, which defines synthetic biology (SB) as follows: “SynBio is the application of science, technology and engineering to facilitate and accelerate the design, manufacture and/or modification of genetic...
Herman, J. D.; Zeff, H. B.; Lamontagne, J. R.; Reed, P. M.; Characklis, G. W.
Robustness analyses of water supply systems have moved toward exploratory simulation to discover scenarios in which existing or planned policies may fail to meet stakeholder objectives. Such assessments rely heavily on the choice of plausible future scenarios, which, in the case of drought management, requires sampling or generating a broad ensemble of reservoir inflows which do not necessarily reflect the historical record. Here we adapt a widely used synthetic streamflow generation method to adjust the frequency of low-flow periods, which can be related to impactful historical events from the perspective of decision makers. Specifically, the modified generation procedure allows the user to specify parameters n, p such that events with observed weekly non-exceedance frequency p appear in the synthetic scenario with approximate frequency np (i.e., the pth percentile flow occurs n times more frequently). Additionally, the generator preserves the historical autocorrelation of streamflow and its seasonality, as well as approximate multi-site correlation. Using model simulations from recent work in multi-objective urban drought portfolio planning in North Carolina, a region whose water supply faces both climate and population pressures, we illustrate the decision-relevant consequences caused by raising the frequency of low flows associated with the 2007-2008 drought. This method explores system performance under extreme events of increasing frequency prior to reconciling these findings with climate model projections, and thus can be used to support bottom-up robustness methods in water systems planning.
For centuries silkworm filaments have been the focus of R&D innovation centred on textile manufacture with high added value. Most recently, silk research has focused on more fundamental issues concerning bio-polymer structure-property-function relationships. This essay outlines the complexity and fundamentals of silk spinning, and presents arguments for establishing this substance as an interesting and important subject at the interface of systems biology (discovery) and synthetic biology (translation). It is argued that silk is a generic class of materials where each type of silk presents a different embodiment of emergent properties that combine genetically determined (anticipatory) and environmentally responsive components. In spiders' webs the various silks have evolved to form the interactive components of an intricate fabric that provides an extended phenotype to the spider's body morphology. © 2016 The Author(s). published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
Hodgman, C Eric; Jewett, Michael C
Cell-free synthetic biology is emerging as a powerful approach aimed to understand, harness, and expand the capabilities of natural biological systems without using intact cells. Cell-free systems bypass cell walls and remove genetic regulation to enable direct access to the inner workings of the cell. The unprecedented level of control and freedom of design, relative to in vivo systems, has inspired the rapid development of engineering foundations for cell-free systems in recent years. These efforts have led to programmed circuits, spatially organized pathways, co-activated catalytic ensembles, rational optimization of synthetic multi-enzyme pathways, and linear scalability from the micro-liter to the 100-liter scale. It is now clear that cell-free systems offer a versatile test-bed for understanding why nature's designs work the way they do and also for enabling biosynthetic routes to novel chemicals, sustainable fuels, and new classes of tunable materials. While challenges remain, the emergence of cell-free systems is poised to open the way to novel products that until now have been impractical, if not impossible, to produce by other means. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Shih, Steve C C; Goyal, Garima; Kim, Peter W; Koutsoubelis, Nicolas; Keasling, Jay D; Adams, Paul D; Hillson, Nathan J; Singh, Anup K
New microbes are being engineered that contain the genetic circuitry, metabolic pathways, and other cellular functions required for a wide range of applications such as producing biofuels, biobased chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Although currently available tools are useful in improving the synthetic biology process, further improvements in physical automation would help to lower the barrier of entry into this field. We present an innovative microfluidic platform for assembling DNA fragments with 10× lower volumes (compared to that of current microfluidic platforms) and with integrated region-specific temperature control and on-chip transformation. Integration of these steps minimizes the loss of reagents and products compared to that with conventional methods, which require multiple pipetting steps. For assembling DNA fragments, we implemented three commonly used DNA assembly protocols on our microfluidic device: Golden Gate assembly, Gibson assembly, and yeast assembly (i.e., TAR cloning, DNA Assembler). We demonstrate the utility of these methods by assembling two combinatorial libraries of 16 plasmids each. Each DNA plasmid is transformed into Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae using on-chip electroporation and further sequenced to verify the assembly. We anticipate that this platform will enable new research that can integrate this automated microfluidic platform to generate large combinatorial libraries of plasmids and will help to expedite the overall synthetic biology process.
Huang, Huang; Cruz, William; Chen, Juan; Zheng, Gang
Synthetic lipoproteins represent a relevant tool for targeted delivery of biological/chemical agents (chemotherapeutics, siRNAs, photosensitizers, and imaging contrast agents) into various cell types. These nanoparticles offer a number of advantages for drugs delivery over their native counterparts while retaining their natural characteristics and biological functions. Their ultra-small size (class B member 1 (SRB1) that are found in a number of pathological conditions (e.g., cancer, atherosclerosis), make them superior delivery strategies when compared with other nanoparticle systems. We review the various approaches that have been developed for the generation of synthetic lipoproteins and their respective applications in vitro and in vivo. More specifically, we summarize the approaches employed to address the limitation on use of reconstituted lipoproteins by means of natural or recombinant apolipoproteins, as well as apolipoprotein mimetic molecules. Finally, we provide an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches and discuss future perspectives for clinical translation of these nanoparticles. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Mark T. Mc Auley
Full Text Available Systems biology and synthetic biology are emerging disciplines which are becoming increasingly utilised in several areas of bioscience. Toxicology is beginning to benefit from systems biology and we suggest in the future that is will also benefit from synthetic biology. Thus, a new era is on the horizon. This review illustrates how a suite of innovative techniques and tools can be applied to understanding complex health and toxicology issues. We review limitations confronted by the traditional computational approaches to toxicology and epidemiology research, using polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs and their effects on adverse birth outcomes as an illustrative example. We introduce how systems toxicology (and their subdisciplines, genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic toxicology will help to overcome such limitations. In particular, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of mathematical frameworks that computationally represent biological systems. Finally, we discuss the nascent discipline of synthetic biology and highlight relevant toxicological centred applications of this technique, including improvements in personalised medicine. We conclude this review by presenting a number of opportunities and challenges that could shape the future of these rapidly evolving disciplines.
Knuuttila, Tarja; Loettgers, Andrea
Synthetic biology is often understood in terms of the pursuit for well-characterized biological parts to create synthetic wholes. Accordingly, it has typically been conceived of as an engineering dominated and application oriented field. We argue that the relationship of synthetic biology to engineering is far more nuanced than that and involves a sophisticated epistemic dimension, as shown by the recent practice of synthetic modeling. Synthetic models are engineered genetic networks that are implanted in a natural cell environment. Their construction is typically combined with experiments on model organisms as well as mathematical modeling and simulation. What is especially interesting about this combinational modeling practice is that, apart from greater integration between these different epistemic activities, it has also led to the questioning of some central assumptions and notions on which synthetic biology is based. As a result synthetic biology is in the process of becoming more "biology inspired."
Full Text Available Cellular networks are highly dynamic in their function, yet evolutionarily conserved in their core network motifs or topologies. Understanding functional tunability and robustness of network motifs to small perturbations in function and structure is vital to our ability to synthesize controllable circuits. In establishing core sets of network motifs, we selected topologies that are overrepresented in mammalian networks, including the linear, feedback, feed-forward, and bifan circuits. Static and dynamic tunability of network motifs were defined as the motif ability to respectively attain steady-state or transient outputs in response to pre-defined input stimuli. Detailed computational analysis suggested that static tunability is insensitive to the circuit topology, since all of the motifs displayed similar ability to attain predefined steady-state outputs in response to constant inputs. Dynamic tunability, in contrast, was tightly dependent on circuit topology, with some motifs performing superiorly in achieving observed time-course outputs. Finally, we mapped dynamic tunability onto motif topologies to determine robustness of motif structures to changes in topology and identify design principles for the rational assembly of robust synthetic networks.
Kogge, Werner; Richter, Michael
The engineering-based approach of synthetic biology is characterized by an assumption that 'engineering by design' enables the construction of 'living machines'. These 'machines', as biological machines, are expected to display certain properties of life, such as adapting to changing environments and acting in a situated way. This paper proposes that a tension exists between the expectations placed on biological artefacts and the notion of producing such systems by means of engineering; this tension makes it seem implausible that biological systems, especially those with properties characteristic of living beings, can in fact be produced using the specific methods of engineering. We do not claim that engineering techniques have nothing to contribute to the biotechnological construction of biological artefacts. However, drawing on Descartes's and Kant's thinking on the relationship between the organism and the machine, we show that it is considerably more plausible to assume that distinctively biological artefacts emerge within a paradigm different from the paradigm of the Cartesian machine that underlies the engineering approach. We close by calling for increased attention to be paid to approaches within molecular biology and chemistry that rest on conceptions different from those of synthetic biology's engineering paradigm.
Bailey, Ryan C.; Washburn, Adam L.; Qavi, Abraham J.; Iqbal, Muzammil; Gleeson, Martin; Tybor, Frank; Gunn, L. Cary
Silicon photonic technology has incredible potential to transform multiplexed bioanalysis on account of the scalability of device fabrication, which maps favorably to a myriad of medical diagnostic applications. The optical properties of CMOS-fabricated microring resonators are incredibly responsive to changes in the local dielectric environment accompanying a biological binding event near the ring surface. Arrays of high-Q microrings were designed to be individually addressable both in surface derivitization, using well-established microarraying technologies, and in optical evaluation. The optical response of each ring can be determined in near real time allowing multiple biomolecular interactions to be simultaneously monitored. We describe a stable and robust measurement platform that allows sensitive visualization of small molecule surface chemical derivitization as well as monitoring of biological interactions, including the detection of proteins and nucleic acids. We also present recent results demonstrating multiplexed measurement of cancer markers. These demonstrations establish a pathway to higher level multiparameter analysis from real-world patient samples; a development that will enable individualized disease diagnostics and personalized medicine.
Gil, Eun Seok; Park, Sang-Hyug; Tien, Lee W; Trimmer, Barry; Hudson, Samuel M; Kaplan, David L
A route toward mechanically robust, rapidly actuating, and biologically functionalized polymeric actuators using macroporous soft materials is described. The materials were prepared by combining silk protein and a synthetic polymer (poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIAPPm)) to form interpenetrating network materials and macroporous structures by freeze-drying, with hundreds of micrometer diameter pores and exploiting the features of both polymers related to dynamic materials and structures. The chemically cross-linked PNIPAAm networks provided stimuli-responsive features, while the silk interpenetrating network formed by inducing protein β-sheet crystallinity in situ for physical cross-links provided material robustness, improved expansion force, and enzymatic degradability. The macroporous hybrid hydrogels showed enhanced thermal-responsive properties in comparison to pure PNIPAAm hydrogels, nonporous silk/PNIPAAm hybrid hydrogels, and previously reported macroporous PNIPAAm hydrogels. These new systems reach near equilibrium sizes in shrunken/swollen states in less than 1 min, with the structural features providing improved actuation rates and stable oscillatory properties due to the macroporous transport and the mechanically robust silk network. Confocal images of the hydrated hydrogels around the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) revealed macropores that could be used to track changes in the real time morphology upon thermal stimulus. The material system transformed from a macroporous to a nonporous structure upon enzymatic degradation. To extend the utility of the system, an affinity platform for a switchable or tunable system was developed by immobilizing biotin and avidin on the macropore surfaces.
Jain, Sheetal Kumar
of biological macromolecules. A new method for polarization transfer called Rotor Echo Short Pulse IRradiATION mediated Cross-Polarization (RESPIRATIONCP) is introduced with a theoretical explanation of its polarization transfer efficiency. An analysis of robustness towards experimental imperfections......) and Silver Hepta Fluoro Butyrate (SHFB) are presented at high magnetic fields. It is demonstrated that important information about dynamics may be extracted from 19F→13C RESPIRATIONCP buildup curves, which are central to the dynamics studies of important biological and synthetic polymers....
Menezes, Amor A; Cumbers, John; Hogan, John A; Arkin, Adam P
This paper demonstrates the significant utility of deploying non-traditional biological techniques to harness available volatiles and waste resources on manned missions to explore the Moon and Mars. Compared with anticipated non-biological approaches, it is determined that for 916 day Martian missions: 205 days of high-quality methane and oxygen Mars bioproduction with Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum can reduce the mass of a Martian fuel-manufacture plant by 56%; 496 days of biomass generation with Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima on Mars can decrease the shipped wet-food mixed-menu mass for a Mars stay and a one-way voyage by 38%; 202 days of Mars polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis with Cupriavidus necator can lower the shipped mass to three-dimensional print a 120 m(3) six-person habitat by 85% and a few days of acetaminophen production with engineered Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 can completely replenish expired or irradiated stocks of the pharmaceutical, thereby providing independence from unmanned resupply spacecraft that take up to 210 days to arrive. Analogous outcomes are included for lunar missions. Because of the benign assumptions involved, the results provide a glimpse of the intriguing potential of 'space synthetic biology', and help focus related efforts for immediate, near-term impact.
Nguyen, Peter Q
Bottom-up fabrication of nanoscale materials has been a significant focus in materials science for expanding our technological frontiers. This assembly concept, however, is old news to biology - all living organisms fabricate themselves using bottom-up principles through a vast self-organizing system of incredibly complex biomolecules, a marvelous dynamic that we are still attempting to unravel. Can we use what we have gleaned from biology thus far to illuminate alternative strategies for designer nanomaterial manufacturing? In the present review article, new synthetic biology efforts toward using bacterial biofilms as platforms for the synthesis and secretion of programmable nanomaterials are described. Particular focus is given to self-assembling functional amyloids found in bacterial biofilms as re-engineerable modular nanomolecular components. Potential applications and existing challenges for this technology are also explored. This novel approach for repurposing biofilm systems will enable future technologies for using engineered living systems to grow artificial nanomaterials. © 2017 The Author(s); published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
Wieland, Markus; Fussenegger, Martin
Synthetic biology has made significant leaps over the past decade, and it now enables rational and predictable reprogramming of cells to conduct complex physiological activities. The bases for cellular reprogramming are mainly genetic control components affecting gene expression. A huge variety of these modules, ranging from engineered fusion proteins regulating transcription to artificial RNA devices affecting translation, is available, and they often feature a highly modular scaffold. First endeavors to combine these modules have led to autoregulated expression systems and genetic cascades. Analogous to the rational engineering of electronic circuits, the existing repertoire of artificial regulatory elements has further enabled the ambitious reprogramming of cells to perform Boolean calculations or to mimic the oscillation of circadian clocks. Cells harboring synthetic gene circuits are not limited to cell culture, as they have been successfully implanted in animals to obtain tailor-made therapeutics that have made it possible to restore urea or glucose homeostasis as well as to offer an innovative approach to artificial insemination.
Rasmussen, Jane Lind Nybo; Vesth, Tammi Camilla; Theobald, Sebastian
The Aspergillus genus contains leading industrial microorganisms, excelling in producing bioactive compounds and enzymes. Using synthetic biology and bioinformatics, we aim to re-engineer these organisms for applications within human health, pharmaceuticals, environmental engineering, and food...... production. In this project, we compare the genomes of +300 species from the Aspergillus genus to generate a high-resolution pan-genomic map, representing genetic diversity spanning ~200 million years. We are identifying genes specific to species and clades to allow for guilt-by-association-based mapping......-directional hits. The result is orthologous protein families describing the genomic and functional features of individual species, clades and the core/pan genome of Aspergillus; and applicable to genotype-to-phenotype analyses in other microbial genera....
Esensten, Jonathan H; Bluestone, Jeffrey A; Lim, Wendell A
Engineered T cells are currently in clinical trials to treat patients with cancer, solid organ transplants, and autoimmune diseases. However, the field is still in its infancy. The design, and manufacturing, of T cell therapies is not standardized and is performed mostly in academic settings by competing groups. Reliable methods to define dose and pharmacokinetics of T cell therapies need to be developed. As of mid-2016, there are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved T cell therapeutics on the market, and FDA regulations are only slowly adapting to the new technologies. Further development of engineered T cell therapies requires advances in immunology, synthetic biology, manufacturing processes, and government regulation. In this review, we outline some of these challenges and discuss the contributions that pathologists can make to this emerging field.
Full Text Available Plants are increasingly being used for the production of recombinant proteins. One reason is that plants are highly amenable for glycan engineering processes and allow the production of therapeutic proteins with increased efficacies due to optimized glycosylation profiles. Removal and insertion of glycosylation reactions by knock-out/knock-down approaches and introduction of glycosylation enzymes have paved the way for the humanization of the plant glycosylation pathway. The insertion of heterologous enzymes at exactly the right stage of the existing glycosylation pathway has turned out to be of utmost importance for optimal results. To enable such precise targeting chimeric enzymes have been constructed. In this short review we will exemplify the importance of correct targeting of glycosyltransferases, we will give an overview of the targeting mechanism of glycosyltransferases, describe chimeric enzymes used in plant N-glycosylation engineering and illustrate how plant glycoengineering builds on the tools offered by synthetic biology to construct such chimeric enzymes.
Rene Michele Davis
Full Text Available Quorum-sensing networks enable bacteria to sense and respond to chemical signals produced by neighboring bacteria. They are widespread: over one hundred morphologically and genetically distinct species of eubacteria are known to use quorum sensing to control gene expression. This diversity suggests the potential to use natural protein variants to engineer parallel, input-specific, cell-cell communication pathways. However, only three distinct signaling pathways, Lux, Las, and Rhl, have been adapted for and broadly used in engineered systems. The paucity of unique quorum-sensing systems and their propensity for crosstalk limits the usefulness of our current quorum-sensing toolkit. This review discusses the need for more signaling pathways, roadblocks to using multiple pathways in parallel, and strategies for expanding the quorum-sensing toolbox for synthetic biology.
Parodi, Jurek; Mangado, Jaione Romero; Stefanson, Ofir; Flynn, Michael; Mancinelli, Rocco; Kawashima, Brian; Trieu, Serena; Brozell, Adrian; Rosenberg, Kevan
Commercially available forward osmosis membranes have been extensively tested for human space flight wastewater treatment. Despite the improvements achieved in the last decades, there is still a challenge to produce reliable membranes with anti-fouling properties, chemical resistance, and high flux and selectivity. Synthetic biological membranes that mimic the ones present in nature, which underwent millions of years of evolution, represent a potential solution for further development and progress in membrane technology. Biomimetic forward osmosis membranes based on a polymeric support filter and coated with surfactant multilayers have been engineered to investigate how different manufacturing processes impact the performance and structure of the membrane. However, initial results of the first generation prototype membranes tests reveal a high scatter in the data, due to the current testing apparatus set up. The testing apparatus has been upgraded to improve data collection, reduce errors, and to allow higher control of the testing process.
Pei, Lei; Gaisser, Sibylle; Schmidt, Markus
We analysed the decisions of major European public funding organisations to fund or not to fund synthetic biology (SB) and related ethical, legal and social implication (ELSI) studies. We investigated the reaction of public organisations in six countries (Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK) towards SB that may influence SB’s further development in Europe. We examined R&D and ELSI communities and their particular funding situation. Our results show that the funding situation for SB varies considerably among the analysed countries, with the UK as the only country with an established funding scheme for R&D and ELSI that successfully integrates these research communities. Elsewhere, we determined a general lack of funding (France), difficulties in funding ELSI work (Switzerland), lack of an R&D community (Austria), too small ELSI communities (France, Switzerland, Netherlands), or difficulties in linking existing communities with available funding sources (Germany), partly due to an unclear SB definition. PMID:22586841
Vincent, Ben J; Estrada, Javier; DePace, Angela H
Genetic approaches have been instrumental in dissecting developmental enhancers by characterizing their transcription factor binding sites. Though some enhancers have been well-studied in this regard, we cannot currently build developmental enhancers from scratch. Reconstitution experiments can provide important complementary tests of our understanding of enhancer function, but these experiments are exceedingly rare in the literature, possibly due to the difficulty of publishing negative results. In this perspective, we argue that the time is right for a synthetic approach to enhancer biology. Focusing primarily on Drosophila enhancers as examples, we review classic and modern methods for dissecting enhancer function as well as computational tools for enhancer design. We include our own negative results from attempts to reconstitute the stripe 2 enhancer from the even-skipped locus and discuss possible ways forward. We believe that with a communal effort in open data sharing, we can make substantial progress toward a complete understanding of enhancer function.
Full Text Available Abstract Background To achieve an economical cellulosic ethanol production, a host that can do both cellulosic saccharification and ethanol fermentation is desirable. However, to engineer a non-cellulolytic yeast to be such a host requires synthetic biology techniques to transform multiple enzyme genes into its genome. Results A technique, named Promoter-based Gene Assembly and Simultaneous Overexpression (PGASO, that employs overlapping oligonucleotides for recombinatorial assembly of gene cassettes with individual promoters, was developed. PGASO was applied to engineer Kluyveromycesmarxianus KY3, which is a thermo- and toxin-tolerant yeast. We obtained a recombinant strain, called KR5, that is capable of simultaneously expressing exoglucanase and endoglucanase (both of Trichodermareesei, a beta-glucosidase (from a cow rumen fungus, a neomycin phosphotransferase, and a green fluorescent protein. High transformation efficiency and accuracy were achieved as ~63% of the transformants was confirmed to be correct. KR5 can utilize beta-glycan, cellobiose or CMC as the sole carbon source for growth and can directly convert cellobiose and beta-glycan to ethanol. Conclusions This study provides the first example of multi-gene assembly in a single step in a yeast species other than Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We successfully engineered a yeast host with a five-gene cassette assembly and the new host is capable of co-expressing three types of cellulase genes. Our study shows that PGASO is an efficient tool for simultaneous expression of multiple enzymes in the kefir yeast KY3 and that KY3 can serve as a host for developing synthetic biology tools.
Huang, Lu-Qi; Gao, Wei; Zhou, Yong-Jin
Bioactive natural products are the material bases of Chinese materia medica resources. With successful applications of synthetic biology strategies to the researches and productions of taxol, artemisinin and tanshinone, etc, the potential ability of synthetic biology in the sustainable utilization of Chinese materia medica resources has been attracted by many researchers. This paper reviews the development of synthetic biology, the opportunities of sustainable utilization of Chinese materia medica resources, and the progress of synthetic biology applied to the researches of bioactive natural products. Furthermore, this paper also analyzes how to apply synthetic biology to sustainable utilization of Chinese materia medica resources and what the crucial factors are. Production of bioactive natural products with synthetic biology strategies will become a significant approach for the sustainable utilization of Chinese materia medica resources.
Choffnes, Eileen R; Relman, David A; Pray, Leslie A
"Many potential applications of synthetic and systems biology are relevant to the challenges associated with the detection, surveillance, and responses to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases...
Laura Nuño De La Rosa
Full Text Available Synthetic biology has a singular relation to evolutionary theory. On the one hand, synthetic biology is founded on an engineering interpretation of evolution. On the other hand, bioengineers aspire to free themselves from evolution by building organisms ‘from scratch’ that behave in a predictable way. In this article, I will examine the main properties of the synthetic characterisation of bioartifacts, namely their characterisation as (1 modular and (2 computable systems which are (3 the product of design. I will argue that synthetic biology is founded on a conception of organisms and their relation with their historical legacy which has been deeply challenged by contemporary evolutionary biology.
Sedgley, Kathleen R; Race, Paul R; Woolfson, Derek N
BrisSynBio is the Bristol-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded Synthetic Biology Research Centre. It is one of six such Centres in the U.K. BrisSynBio's emphasis is on rational and predictive bimolecular modelling, design and engineering in the context of synthetic biology. It trains the next generation of synthetic biologists in these approaches, to facilitate translation of fundamental synthetic biology research to industry and the clinic, and to do this within an innovative and responsible research framework. © 2016 The Author(s).
Full Text Available Biological systems are inherently variable, with their dynamics influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic sources. These systems are often only partially characterized, with large uncertainties about specific sources of extrinsic variability and biochemical properties. Moreover, it is not yet well understood how different sources of variability combine and affect biological systems in concert. To successfully design biomedical therapies or synthetic circuits with robust performance, it is crucial to account for uncertainty and effects of variability. Here we introduce an efficient modeling and simulation framework to study systems that are simultaneously subject to multiple sources of variability, and apply it to make design decisions on small genetic networks that play a role of basic design elements of synthetic circuits. Specifically, the framework was used to explore the effect of transcriptional and post-transcriptional autoregulation on fluctuations in protein expression in simple genetic networks. We found that autoregulation could either suppress or increase the output variability, depending on specific noise sources and network parameters. We showed that transcriptional autoregulation was more successful than post-transcriptional in suppressing variability across a wide range of intrinsic and extrinsic magnitudes and sources. We derived the following design principles to guide the design of circuits that best suppress variability: (i high protein cooperativity and low miRNA cooperativity, (ii imperfect complementarity between miRNA and mRNA was preferred to perfect complementarity, and (iii correlated expression of mRNA and miRNA--for example, on the same transcript--was best for suppression of protein variability. Results further showed that correlations in kinetic parameters between cells affected the ability to suppress variability, and that variability in transient states did not necessarily follow the same principles as variability in
Full Text Available Cell factories are commonly microbial organisms utilized for bioconversion of renewable resources to bulk or high value chemicals. Introduction of novel production pathways in chassis strains is the core of the development of cell factories by synthetic biology. Synthetic biology aims to create novel biological functions and systems not found in nature by combining biology with engineering. The workflow of the development of novel cell factories with synthetic biology is ideally linear which will be attainable with the quantitative engineering approach, high-quality predictive models, and libraries of well-characterized parts. Different types of metabolic models, mathematical representations of metabolism and its components, enzymes and metabolites, are useful in particular phases of the synthetic biology workflow. In this minireview, the role of metabolic modelling in synthetic biology will be discussed with a review of current status of compatible methods and models for the in silico design and quantitative evaluation of a cell factory.
Rothschild, L. J.; Fujishima, K.
"Are we alone?" is one of the primary questions of astrobiology, and whose answer defines our significance in the universe. Unfortunately, this quest is hindered by the fact that we have only one confirmed example of life, that of earth. While this is enormously helpful in helping to define the minimum envelope for life, it strains credulity to imagine that life, if it arose multiple times, has not taken other routes. To help fill this gap, our lab has begun using synthetic biology - the design and construction of new biological parts and systems and the redesign of existing ones for useful purposes - as an enabling technology. One theme, the "Hell Cell" project, focuses on creating artificial extremophiles in order to push the limits for Earth life, and to understand how difficult it is for life to evolve into extreme niches. In another project, we are reevolving biotic functions using only the most thermodynamically stable amino acids in order to understand potential capabilities of an early organism with a limited repertoire of amino acids. This should lead to a more universal theory of the origin of life based on materials found commonly in meteorites and other pre-biotic settings.
Rothschild, Lynn J.
"Are we alone?" is one of the primary questions of astrobiology, and whose answer defines our significance in the universe. Unfortunately, this quest is hindered by the fact that we have only one confirmed example of life, that of earth. While this is enormously helpful in helping to define the minimum envelope for life, it strains credulity to imagine that life, if it arose multiple times, has not taken other routes. To help fill this gap, our lab has begun using synthetic biology - the design and construction of new biological parts and systems and the redesign of existing ones for useful purposes - as an enabling technology. One theme, the "Hell Cell" project, focuses on creating artificial extremophiles in order to push the limits for Earth life, and to understand how difficult it is for life to evolve into extreme niches. In another project, we are re-evolving biotic functions using only the most thermodynamically stable amino acids in order to understand potential capabilities of an early organism with a limited repertoire of amino acids.
Rothschild, Lynn J.
Human exploration off planet is severely limited by the cost of launching materials into space and by re-supply. Thus materials brought from Earth must be light, stable and reliable at destination. Using traditional approaches, a lunar or Mars base would require either transporting a hefty store of metals or heavy manufacturing equipment and construction materials for in situ extraction; both would severely limit any other mission objectives. Long-term human space presence requires periodic replenishment, adding a massive cost overhead. Even robotic missions often sacrifice science goals for heavy radiation and thermal protection. Biology has the potential to solve these problems because life can replicate and repair itself, and perform a wide variety of chemical reactions including making food, fuel and materials. Synthetic biology enhances and expands life's evolved repertoire. Using organisms as feedstock, additive manufacturing through bioprinting will make possible the dream of producing bespoke tools, food, smart fabrics and even replacement organs on demand. This new approach and the resulting novel products will enable human exploration and settlement on Mars, while providing new manufacturing approaches for life on Earth.
Nesbeth, Darren N; Zaikin, Alexey; Saka, Yasushi; Romano, M Carmen; Giuraniuc, Claudiu V; Kanakov, Oleg; Laptyeva, Tetyana
The design of synthetic gene networks (SGNs) has advanced to the extent that novel genetic circuits are now being tested for their ability to recapitulate archetypal learning behaviours first defined in the fields of machine and animal learning. Here, we discuss the biological implementation of a perceptron algorithm for linear classification of input data. An expansion of this biological design that encompasses cellular 'teachers' and 'students' is also examined. We also discuss implementation of Pavlovian associative learning using SGNs and present an example of such a scheme and in silico simulation of its performance. In addition to designed SGNs, we also consider the option to establish conditions in which a population of SGNs can evolve diversity in order to better contend with complex input data. Finally, we compare recent ethical concerns in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and the future challenges raised by bio-artificial intelligence (BI). © 2016 The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society and distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).
Fong, Stephen S
Metabolic engineering modifies cellular function to address various biochemical applications. Underlying metabolic engineering efforts are a host of tools and knowledge that are integrated to enable successful outcomes. Concurrent development of computational and experimental tools has enabled different approaches to metabolic engineering. One approach is to leverage knowledge and computational tools to prospectively predict designs to achieve the desired outcome. An alternative approach is to utilize combinatorial experimental tools to empirically explore the range of cellular function and to screen for desired traits. This mini-review focuses on computational systems biology and synthetic biology tools that can be used in combination for prospective in silico strain design.
Jullesson, David; David, Florian; Pfleger, Brian
Industrial bio-processes for fine chemical production are increasingly relying on cell factories developed through metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. The use of high throughput techniques and automation for the design of cell factories, and especially platform strains, has played...... an important role in the transition from laboratory research to industrial production. Model organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli remain widely used host strains for industrial production due to their robust and desirable traits. This review describes some of the bio-based fine...... chemicals that have reached the market, key metabolic engineering tools that have allowed this to happen and some of the companies that are currently utilizing these technologies for developing industrial production processes....
Jullesson, David; David, Florian; Pfleger, Brian; Nielsen, Jens
Industrial bio-processes for fine chemical production are increasingly relying on cell factories developed through metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. The use of high throughput techniques and automation for the design of cell factories, and especially platform strains, has played an important role in the transition from laboratory research to industrial production. Model organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli remain widely used host strains for industrial production due to their robust and desirable traits. This review describes some of the bio-based fine chemicals that have reached the market, key metabolic engineering tools that have allowed this to happen and some of the companies that are currently utilizing these technologies for developing industrial production processes. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Bereza-Malcolm, Lara Tess; Mann, Gülay; Franks, Ashley Edwin
Whole cell microbial biosensors are offering an alternative means for rapid, on-site heavy metal detection. Based in microorganisms, biosensing constructs are designed and constructed to produce both qualitative and quantitative outputs in response to heavy metal ions. Previous microbial biosensors designs are focused on single-input constructs; however, development of multiplexed systems is resulting in more flexible designs. The movement of microbial biosensors from laboratory based designs toward on-site, functioning heavy metal detectors has been hindered by the toxic nature of heavy metals, along with the lack of specificity of heavy metals promoter elements. Applying a synthetic biology approach with alternative microbial chassis may increase the robustness of microbial biosensors and mitigate these issues. Before full applications are achieved, further consideration has to be made regarding the risk and regulations of whole cell microbial biosensor use in the environment. To this end, a standard framework for future whole cell microbial biosensor design and use is proposed.
Lee, Kyung-Ho; Kim, Dong-Myung
Synthetic biology is built on the synthesis, engineering, and assembly of biological parts. Proteins are the first components considered for the construction of systems with designed biological functions because proteins carry out most of the biological functions and chemical reactions inside cells. Protein synthesis is considered to comprise the most basic levels of the hierarchical structure of synthetic biology. Cell-free protein synthesis has emerged as a powerful technology that can potentially transform the concept of bioprocesses. With the ability to harness the synthetic power of biology without many of the constraints of cell-based systems, cell-free protein synthesis enables the rapid creation of protein molecules from diverse sources of genetic information. Cell-free protein synthesis is virtually free from the intrinsic constraints of cell-based methods and offers greater flexibility in system design and manipulability of biological synthetic machinery. Among its potential applications, cell-free protein synthesis can be combined with various man-made devices for rapid functional analysis of genomic sequences. This review covers recent efforts to integrate cell-free protein synthesis with various reaction devices and analytical platforms. Copyright © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Betten, Afke Wieke; Broerse, Jacqueline E W; Kupper, Frank
Synthetic biology is an emerging scientific field where engineers and biologists design and build biological systems for various applications. Developing synthetic biology responsibly in the public interest necessitates a meaningful societal dialogue. In this article, we argue that facilitating such a dialogue requires an understanding of how people make sense of synthetic biology. We performed qualitative research to unravel the underlying dynamics of problem setting and framing in citizen discussions on synthetic biology. We found that most people are not inherently for or against synthetic biology as a technology or development in itself, but that their perspectives are framed by core values about our relationships with science and technology and that sensemaking is much dependent on the context and general feelings of (dis)content. Given that there are many assumptions focused on a more binary idea of the public's view, we emphasize the need for frame awareness and understanding in a meaningful dialogue.
Palmer, Megan J; Jewett, Michael C
Synthetic biology seeks to make engineering of complex biological functions more efficient, reliable, and predictable. Advancing the process of engineering biology requires community organization and leadership. As synthetic biology matures into a globally significant enterprise, the community needs to enable a next generation of leaders to organize the field's responsible advancement. We discuss key points raised at a community meeting on these issues at SB6.0--the Sixth International Meeting on Synthetic Biology--and highlight opportunities to carry forward the conversation.
Wagner, James M; Alper, Hal S
Coupling the tools of synthetic biology with traditional molecular genetic techniques can enable the rapid prototyping and optimization of yeast strains. While the era of yeast synthetic biology began in the well-characterized model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae, it is swiftly expanding to include non-conventional yeast production systems such as Hansenula polymorpha, Kluyveromyces lactis, Pichia pastoris, and Yarrowia lipolytica. These yeasts already have roles in the manufacture of vaccines, therapeutic proteins, food additives, and biorenewable chemicals, but recent synthetic biology advances have the potential to greatly expand and diversify their impact on biotechnology. In this review, we summarize the development of synthetic biological tools (including promoters and terminators) and enabling molecular genetics approaches that have been applied in these four promising alternative biomanufacturing platforms. An emphasis is placed on synthetic parts and genome editing tools. Finally, we discuss examples of synthetic tools developed in other organisms that can be adapted or optimized for these hosts in the near future.
Hlavova, Monika; Turoczy, Zoltan; Bisova, Katerina
Microalgae have traditionally been used in many biotechnological applications, where each new application required a different species or strain expressing the required properties; the challenge therefore is to isolate or develop, characterize and optimize species or strains that can express more than one specific property. In agriculture, breeding of natural variants has been successfully used for centuries to improve production traits in many existing plant and animal species. With the discovery of the concepts of classical genetics, these new ideas have been extensively used in selective breeding. However, many biotechnologically relevant algae do not possess the sexual characteristics required for traditional breeding/crossing, although they can be modified by chemical and physical mutagens. The resulting mutants are not considered as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their cultivation is therefore not limited by legislation. On the other hand, mutants prepared by random or specific insertion of foreign DNA are considered to be GMOs. This review will compare the effects of two genetic approaches on model algal species and will summarize their advantages in basic research. Furthermore, we will discuss the potential of mutagenesis to improve microalgae as a biotechnological resource, to accelerate the process from specific strain isolation to growth optimization, and discuss the production of new products. Finally, we will explore the potential of algae in synthetic biology.
Massignani, Marzia; Lomas, Hannah; Battaglia, Giuseppe
Compartmentalization, i.e. the ability to create controlled volumes and separate molecules one from another is possibly the most important requisite for complex manipulations. Indeed, compartmentalization has been the first step to isolate the building blocks of life and ensure the dynamic nature that today makes the complexity of any living system. For decades scientists have tried using many synthetic approaches to imitate such ability and one the most successful comes from mimicking the biological component responsible for the compartmentalization: the phospholipid. We are now able to synthesize macromolecular analogues of the phospholipid using advanced co-polymerization techniques. Copolymers that comprise hydrophilic and hydrophobic components (i.e. amphiphilic) can be designed to self assemble into membrane enclosed structures. The simplest of those is represented by a sac resulting from the enclosure of a membrane into a sphere: the vesicle. Vesicles made of amphiphilic copolymers are commonly known as polymersomes and are now one of the most important nanotechnological tool for many applications spanning from drug delivery, gene therapy, medical imaging, electronics and nanoreactors. Herein we review the molecular properties, the fabrication processes and the most important applications of polymersomes.
Castaneto, Marisol S; Wohlfarth, Ariane; Desrosiers, Nathalie A; Hartman, Rebecca L; Gorelick, David A; Huestis, Marilyn A
Synthetic cannabinoids (SC), originally developed as research tools, are now highly abused novel psychoactive substances. We present a comprehensive systematic review covering in vivo and in vitro animal and human pharmacokinetics and analytical methods for identifying SC and their metabolites in biological matrices. Of two main phases of SC research, the first investigated therapeutic applications, and the second abuse-related issues. Administration studies showed high lipophilicity and distribution into brain and fat tissue. Metabolite profiling studies, mostly with human liver microsomes and human hepatocytes, structurally elucidated metabolites and identified suitable SC markers. In general, SC underwent hydroxylation at various molecular sites, defluorination of fluorinated analogs and phase II metabolites were almost exclusively glucuronides. Analytical methods are critical for documenting intake, with different strategies applied to adequately address the continuous emergence of new compounds. Immunoassays have different cross-reactivities for different SC classes, but cannot keep pace with changing analyte targets. Gas chromatography and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry assays - first for a few, then numerous analytes - are available but constrained by reference standard availability, and must be continuously updated and revalidated. In blood and oral fluid, parent compounds are frequently present, albeit in low concentrations; for urinary detection, metabolites must be identified and interpretation is complex due to shared metabolic pathways. A new approach is non-targeted HRMS screening that is more flexible and permits retrospective data analysis. We suggest that streamlined assessment of new SC's pharmacokinetics and advanced HRMS screening provide a promising strategy to maintain relevant assays.
A full accounting of biological robustness remains elusive; both in terms of the mechanisms by which robustness is achieved and the forces that have caused robustness to grow over evolutionary time. Although its importance to topics such as ecosystem services and resilience is well recognized, the broader relationship between robustness and evolution is only starting to be fully appreciated. A renewed interest in this relationship has been prompted by evidence that mutational robustness can play a positive role in the discovery of future adaptive innovations (evolvability) and evidence of an intimate relationship between robustness and complexity in biology. This paper offers a new perspective on the mechanics of evolution and the origins of complexity, robustness, and evolvability. Here we explore the hypothesis that degeneracy, a partial overlap in the functioning of multi-functional components, plays a central role in the evolution and robustness of complex forms. In support of this hypothesis, we present ...
Synthetic biology is often described as a project that applies rational design methods to the organic world. Although humans have influenced organic lineages in many ways, it is nonetheless reasonable to place synthetic biology towards one end of a continuum between purely 'blind' processes of organic modification at one extreme, and wholly rational, design-led processes at the other. An example from evolutionary electronics illustrates some of the constraints imposed by the rational design methodology itself. These constraints reinforce the limitations of the synthetic biology ideal, limitations that are often freely acknowledged by synthetic biology's own practitioners. The synthetic biology methodology reflects a series of constraints imposed on finite human designers who wish, as far as is practicable, to communicate with each other and to intervene in nature in reasonably targeted and well-understood ways. This is better understood as indicative of an underlying awareness of human limitations, rather than as expressive of an objectionable impulse to mastery over nature.
The emergence of synthetic biology holds the potential of a major breakthrough in the life sciences by transforming biology into a predictive science. The dual-use characteristics of similar breakthroughs during the twentieth century have led to the application of benignly intended research in e.g. virology, bacteriology and aerobiology in offensive biological weapons programmes. Against this background the article raises the question whether the precautionary governance of synthetic biology can aid in preventing this techno-science witnessing the same fate? In order to address this question, this paper proceeds in four steps: it firstly introduces the emerging techno-science of synthetic biology and presents some of its potential beneficial applications. It secondly analyses contributions to the bioethical discourse on synthetic biology as well as precautionary reasoning and its application to life science research in general and synthetic biology more specifically. The paper then identifies manifestations of a moderate precautionary principle in the emerging synthetic biology dual-use governance discourse. Using a dual-use governance matrix as heuristic device to analyse some of the proposed measures, it concludes that the identified measures can best be described as "patchwork precaution" and that a more systematic approach to construct a web of dual-use precaution for synthetic biology is needed in order to guard more effectively against the field's future misuse for harmful applications.
Eckdahl, Todd; Cronk, Brian; Andresen, Corinne; Frederick, Paul; Huckuntod, Samantha; Shinneman, Claire; Wacker, Annie; Yuan, Jason
The Vision and Change report recommended genuine research experiences for undergraduate biology students. Authentic research improves science education, increases the number of scientifically literate citizens, and encourages students to pursue research. Synthetic biology is well suited for undergraduate research and is a growing area of science. We developed a laboratory module called pClone that empowers students to use advances in molecular cloning methods to discover new promoters for use by synthetic biologists. Our educational goals are consistent with Vision and Change and emphasize core concepts and competencies. pClone is a family of three plasmids that students use to clone a new transcriptional promoter or mutate a canonical promoter and measure promoter activity in Escherichia coli. We also developed the Registry of Functional Promoters, an open-access database of student promoter research results. Using pre- and posttests, we measured significant learning gains among students using pClone in introductory biology and genetics classes. Student posttest scores were significantly better than scores of students who did not use pClone. pClone is an easy and affordable mechanism for large-enrollment labs to meet the high standards of Vision and Change. PMID:26086659
Czajka, Jeffrey; Wang, Qinhong; Wang, Yechun; Tang, Yinjie J
Genetically modified microbes have had much industrial success producing protein-based products (such as antibodies and enzymes). However, engineering microbial workhorses for biomanufacturing of commodity compounds remains challenging. First, microbes cannot afford burdens with both overexpression of multiple enzymes and metabolite drainage for product synthesis. Second, synthetic circuits and introduced heterologous pathways are not yet as "robust and reliable" as native pathways due to hosts' innate regulations, especially under suboptimal fermentation conditions. Third, engineered enzymes may lack channeling capabilities for cascade-like transport of metabolites to overcome diffusion barriers or to avoid intermediate toxicity in the cytoplasmic environment. Fourth, moving engineered hosts from laboratory to industry is unreliable because genetic mutations and non-genetic cell-to-cell variations impair the large-scale fermentation outcomes. Therefore, synthetic biology strains often have unsatisfactory industrial performance (titer/yield/productivity). To overcome these problems, many different species are being explored for their metabolic strengths that can be leveraged to synthesize specific compounds. Here, we provide examples of non-conventional and genetically amenable species for industrial manufacturing, including the following: Corynebacterium glutamicum for its TCA cycle-derived biosynthesis, Yarrowia lipolytica for its biosynthesis of fatty acids and carotenoids, cyanobacteria for photosynthetic production from its sugar phosphate pathways, and Rhodococcus for its ability to biotransform recalcitrant feedstock. Finally, we discuss emerging technologies (e.g., genome-to-phenome mapping, single cell methods, and knowledge engineering) that may facilitate the development of novel cell factories.
Bensaude Vincent Bernadette
This paper outlines a number of distinctive features of this emerging field in the constellation of bionanotechnologies. It then insists on the variety of research agendas and strategies gathered under the umbrella “synthetic biology”. While redesigning life is the central goal, synthetic biologists do not develop a uniform view of living organisms.
Krishnamurthy, Malathy; Moore, Richard T; Rajamani, Sathish; Panchal, Rekha G
The emergence and prevalence of multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogenic bacteria poses a serious threat to human and animal health globally. Nosocomial infections and common ailments such as pneumonia, wound, urinary tract, and bloodstream infections are becoming more challenging to treat due to the rapid spread of MDR pathogenic bacteria. According to recent reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is an unprecedented increase in the occurrence of MDR infections worldwide. The rise in these infections has generated an economic strain worldwide, prompting the WHO to endorse a global action plan to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance. This health crisis necessitates an immediate action to target the underlying mechanisms of drug resistance in bacteria. The advent of new bacterial genome engineering and synthetic biology (SB) tools is providing promising diagnostic and treatment plans to monitor and treat widespread recalcitrant bacterial infections. Key advances in genetic engineering approaches can successfully aid in targeting and editing pathogenic bacterial genomes for understanding and mitigating drug resistance mechanisms. In this review, we discuss the application of specific genome engineering and SB methods such as recombineering, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), and bacterial cell-cell signaling mechanisms for pathogen targeting. The utility of these tools in developing antibacterial strategies such as novel antibiotic production, phage therapy, diagnostics and vaccine production to name a few, are also highlighted. The prevalent use of antibiotics and the spread of MDR bacteria raise the prospect of a post-antibiotic era, which underscores the need for developing novel therapeutics to target MDR pathogens. The development of enabling SB technologies offers promising solutions to deliver safe and effective antibacterial therapies.
Vetter, Beatrice V; Pantidos, Nikolaos; Edmundson, Matthew
The second meeting organised by the EFB on the advances of applied synthetic biology in Europe was held in Málaga, Spain in November 2013. The potential for the broad application of synthetic biology was reflected in the five sessions of this meeting: synthetic biology for healthcare applications, tools and technologies for synthetic biology, production of recombinant proteins, synthetic plant biology, and biofuels and other small molecules. Outcomes from the meeting were that synthetic biology offers methods for rapid development of new strains that will result in decreased production costs, sustainable chemical production and new medical applications. Additionally, it also introduced novel ways to produce sustainable energy and biofuels, to find new alternatives for bioremediation and resource recovery, and environmentally friendly foodstuff production. All the above-mentioned advances could enable biotechnology to solve some of the major problems of Society. However, while there are still limitations in terms of lacking tools, standardisation and suitable host organisms, this meeting has laid a foundation providing cutting-edge concepts and techniques to ultimately convert the potential of synthetic biology into practice. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
An alternative to creating novel organisms through the traditional “top-down” approach to synthetic biology involves creating them from the “bottom up” by assembling them from non-living components; the products of this approach are called “protocells.” In this paper we describe how bottom-up and top-down synthetic biology differ, review the current state of protocell research and development, and examine the unique ethical, social, and regulatory issues raised by bottom-up synthetic biology....
Woo, Han Min; Park, Jin-Byung
The paradigm of synthetic biology has been evolving, along with relevant engineering, to achieve designed bio-systems. Synthetic biology has reached the point where it is possible to develop microbial strains to produce desired chemicals. Recent advances in this field have promoted metabolic engineering of Corynebacterium glutamicum as an amino-acid producer for use in intelligent microbial-cell factories. Here, we review recent advances that address C. glutamicum as a potential model organism for synthetic biology, and evaluate their industrial applications. Finally, we highlight the perspective of developing C. glutamicum as a step toward advanced microbial-cell factories that could produce valuable chemicals from renewable resources.
Kronberger, Nicole; Holtz, Peter; Kerbe, Wolfgang; Strasser, Ewald; Wagner, Wolfgang
We present insights from a study on communicating Synthetic Biology conducted in 2008. Scientists were invited to write press releases on their work; the resulting texts were passed on to four journalists from major Austrian newspapers and magazines. The journalists in turn wrote articles that were used as stimulus material for eight group discussions with select members of the Austrian public. The results show that, from the lab via the media to the general public, communication is characterized by two important tendencies: first, communication becomes increasingly focused on concrete applications of Synthetic Biology; and second, biotechnology represents an important benchmark against which Synthetic Biology is being evaluated.
Rothschild, Lynn J.
The combination of evolutionary with engineering principles will enhance synthetic biology. Conversely, synthetic biology has the potential to enrich evolutionary biology by explaining why some adaptive space is empty, on Earth or elsewhere. Synthetic biology, the design and construction of artificial biological systems, substitutes bio-engineering for evolution, which is seen as an obstacle. But because evolution has produced the complexity and diversity of life, it provides a proven toolkit of genetic materials and principles available to synthetic biology. Evolution operates on the population level, with the populations composed of unique individuals that are historical entities. The source of genetic novelty includes mutation, gene regulation, sex, symbiosis, and interspecies gene transfer. At a phenotypic level, variation derives from regulatory control, replication and diversification of components, compartmentalization, sexual selection and speciation, among others. Variation is limited by physical constraints such as diffusion, and chemical constraints such as reaction rates and membrane fluidity. While some of these tools of evolution are currently in use in synthetic biology, all ought to be examined for utility. A hybrid approach of synthetic biology coupled with fine-tuning through evolution is suggested
Full Text Available Abstract Background Synthetic biology approaches can make a significant contribution to the advance of metabolic engineering by reducing the development time of recombinant organisms. However, most of synthetic biology tools have been developed for Escherichia coli. Here we provide a platform for rapid engineering of C. glutamicum, a microorganism of great industrial interest. This bacteria, used for decades for the fermentative production of amino acids, has recently been developed as a host for the production of several economically important compounds including metabolites and recombinant proteins because of its higher capacity of secretion compared to traditional bacterial hosts like E. coli. Thus, the development of modern molecular platforms may significantly contribute to establish C. glutamicum as a robust and versatile microbial factory. Results A plasmid based platform named pTGR was created where all the genetic components are flanked by unique restriction sites to both facilitate the evaluation of regulatory sequences and the assembly of constructs for the expression of multiple genes. The approach was validated by using reporter genes to test promoters, ribosome binding sites, and for the assembly of dual gene operons and gene clusters containing two transcriptional units. Combinatorial assembly of promoter (tac, cspB and sod and RBS (lacZ, cspB and sod elements with different strengths conferred clear differential gene expression of two reporter genes, eGFP and mCherry, thus allowing transcriptional “fine-tuning”of multiple genes. In addition, the platform allowed the rapid assembly of operons and genes clusters for co-expression of heterologous genes, a feature that may assist metabolic pathway engineering. Conclusions We anticipate that the pTGR platform will contribute to explore the potential of novel parts to regulate gene expression, and to facilitate the assembly of genetic circuits for metabolic engineering of C
Rothschild, Lynn J.
The time has come to for NASA to exploit the nascent field of synthetic biology in pursuit of its mission, including aeronautics, earth science, astrobiology and notably, human exploration. Conversely, NASA advances the fundamental technology of synthetic biology as no one else can because of its unique expertise in the origin of life and life in extreme environments, including the potential for alternate life forms. This enables unique, creative "game changing" advances. NASA's requirement for minimizing upmass in flight will also drive the field toward miniaturization and automation. These drivers will greatly increase the utility of synthetic biology solutions for military, health in remote areas and commercial purposes. To this end, we have begun a program at NASA to explore the use of synthetic biology in NASA's missions, particularly space exploration. As part of this program, we began hosting an iGEM team of undergraduates drawn from Brown and Stanford Universities to conduct synthetic biology research at NASA Ames Research Center. The 2011 team (http://2011.igem.org/Team:Brown-Stanford) produced an award-winning project on using synthetic biology as a basis for a human Mars settlement and the 2012 team has expanded the use of synthetic biology to estimate the potential for life in the clouds of other planets (http://2012.igem.org/Team:Stanford-Brown; http://www.calacademy.org/sciencetoday/igem-competition/). More recent projects from the Stanford-Brown team have expanded our ideas of how synthetic biology can aid NASA's missions from "Synthetic BioCommunication" (http://2013.igem.org/Team:Stanford-Brown) to a "Biodegradable UAS (drone)" in collaboration with Spelman College (http://2014.igem.org/Team:StanfordBrownSpelman#SBS%20iGEM) and most recently, "Self-Folding Origami" (http://2015.igem.org/Team:Stanford-Brown), the winner of the 2015 award for Manufacturing.
Full Text Available Mathematical modeling plays an important and often indispensable role in synthetic biology because it serves as a crucial link between the concept and realization of a biological circuit. We review mathematical modeling concepts and methodologies as relevant to synthetic biology, including assumptions that underlie a model, types of modeling frameworks (deterministic and stochastic, and the importance of parameter estimation and optimization in modeling. Additionally we expound mathematical techniques used to analyze a model such as sensitivity analysis and bifurcation analysis, which enable the identification of the conditions that cause a synthetic circuit to behave in a desired manner. We also discuss the role of modeling in phenotype analysis such as metabolic and transcription network analysis and point out some available modeling standards and software. Following this, we present three case studies—a metabolic oscillator, a synthetic counter, and a bottom-up gene regulatory network—which have incorporated mathematical modeling as a central component of synthetic circuit design.
Chen, Yiyi; Yin, Zhou; Shao, Zhexin; Xie, Qiong
Synthetic biology opens up exciting new opportunities for research and industry. Although the work of synthetic biologists presents many beneficial applications, it also raises potentially serious ethical concerns. Therefore, clear ideas must be formed regarding its ethical and social implications, e.g., public perception, safety, security, intellectual property rights and so on. In this review, the authors identified four issues relevant to synthetic biology and discussed associated ethical and practical implications. By weighing these perspectives of all sides, this paper clarifies the point that synthetic biology, as an emerging discipline with many anticipated benefits and positive impacts on society, can acquire moral support and ethical defence. Therefore, synthetic biologists should not be shackled with heavy ethical chains, but we must ensure that research is conducted under strict control and effective supervisory methods.
Roehner, Nicholas; Myers, Chris J
Recently, we have begun to witness the potential of synthetic biology, noted here in the form of bacteria and yeast that have been genetically engineered to produce biofuels, manufacture drug precursors, and even invade tumor cells. The success of these projects, however, has often failed in translation and application to new projects, a problem exacerbated by a lack of engineering standards that combine descriptions of the structure and function of DNA. To address this need, this paper describes a methodology to connect the systems biology markup language (SBML) to the synthetic biology open language (SBOL), existing standards that describe biochemical models and DNA components, respectively. Our methodology involves first annotating SBML model elements such as species and reactions with SBOL DNA components. A graph is then constructed from the model, with vertices corresponding to elements within the model and edges corresponding to the cause-and-effect relationships between these elements. Lastly, the graph is traversed to assemble the annotating DNA components into a composite DNA component, which is used to annotate the model itself and can be referenced by other composite models and DNA components. In this way, our methodology can be used to build up a hierarchical library of models annotated with DNA components. Such a library is a useful input to any future genetic technology mapping algorithm that would automate the process of composing DNA components to satisfy a behavioral specification. Our methodology for SBML-to-SBOL annotation is implemented in the latest version of our genetic design automation (GDA) software tool, iBioSim.
Gorochowski, Thomas E.; van den Berg, Eric; Kerkman, Richard; Roubos, Johannes A.; Bovenberg, Roel A. L.
Synthetic biology has developed numerous parts for the precise control of protein expression. However, relatively little is known about the burden these place on a host, or their reliability under varying environmental conditions. To address this, we made use of synthetic transcriptional and transla
Sørensen, John Dalsgaard; Rizzuto, Enrico; Narasimhan, Harikrishna
More frequent use of advanced types of structures with limited redundancy and serious consequences in case of failure combined with increased requirements to efficiency in design and execution followed by increased risk of human errors has made the need of requirements to robustness of structures......, a theoretical and risk-based framework is presented which facilitates the quantification of robustness, and thus supports the formulation of pre-normative guidelines....
Oberortner, Ernst; Densmore, Douglas
miniEugene provides computational support for solving combinatorial design problems, enabling users to specify and enumerate designs for novel biological systems based on sets of biological constraints. This technical note presents a brief tutorial for biologists and software engineers in the field of synthetic biology on how to use miniEugene. After reading this technical note, users should know which biological constraints are available in miniEugene, understand the syntax and semantics of these constraints, and be able to follow a step-by-step guide to specify the design of a classical synthetic biological system-the genetic toggle switch.1 We also provide links and references to more information on the miniEugene web application and the integration of the miniEugene software library into sophisticated Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools for synthetic biology ( www.eugenecad.org ).
Holm, Sune; Powell, Russell
Synthetic biology is an emerging discipline that aims to apply rational engineering principles in the design and creation of organisms that are exquisitely tailored to human ends. The creation of artificial life raises conceptual, methodological and normative challenges that are ripe for philosophical investigation. This special issue examines the defining concepts and methods of synthetic biology, details the contours of the organism-artifact distinction, situates the products of synthetic biology vis-à-vis this conceptual typology and against historical human manipulation of the living world, and explores the normative implications of these conclusions. In addressing the challenges posed by emerging biotechnologies, new light can be thrown on old problems in the philosophy of biology, such as the nature of the organism, the structure of biological teleology, the utility of engineering metaphors and methods in biological science, and humankind's relationship to nature.
Patron, Nicola J
Synthetic biology aims to apply engineering principles to the design and modification of biological systems and to the construction of biological parts and devices. The ability to programme cells by providing new instructions written in DNA is a foundational technology of the field. Large-scale de novo DNA synthesis has accelerated synthetic biology by offering custom-made molecules at ever decreasing costs. However, for large fragments and for experiments in which libraries of DNA sequences are assembled in different combinations, assembly in the laboratory is still desirable. Biological assembly standards allow DNA parts, even those from multiple laboratories and experiments, to be assembled together using the same reagents and protocols. The adoption of such standards for plant synthetic biology has been cohesive for the plant science community, facilitating the application of genome editing technologies to plant systems and streamlining progress in large-scale, multi-laboratory bioengineering projects.
Schmidt, Markus; Ganguli-Mitra, Agomoni; Torgersen, Helge; Kelle, Alexander; Deplazes, Anna; Biller-Andorno, Nikola
As synthetic biology develops into a promising science and engineering field, we need to have clear ideas and priorities regarding its safety, security, ethical and public dialogue implications. Based on an extensive literature search, interviews with scientists, social scientists, a 4 week long public e-forum, and consultation with several stakeholders from science, industry and civil society organisations, we compiled a list of priority topics regarding societal issues of synthetic biology for the years ahead. The points presented here are intended to encourage all stakeholders to engage in the prioritisation of these issues and to participate in a continuous dialogue, with the ultimate goal of providing a basis for a multi-stakeholder governance in synthetic biology. Here we show possible ways to solve the challenges to synthetic biology in the field of safety, security, ethics and the science-public interface.
Bedau, Mark A; Parke, Emily C; Tangen, Uwe; Hantsche-Tangen, Brigitte
An alternative to creating novel organisms through the traditional "top-down" approach to synthetic biology involves creating them from the "bottom up" by assembling them from non-living components; the products of this approach are called "protocells." In this paper we describe how bottom-up and top-down synthetic biology differ, review the current state of protocell research and development, and examine the unique ethical, social, and regulatory issues raised by bottom-up synthetic biology. Protocells have not yet been developed, but many expect this to happen within the next five to ten years. Accordingly, we identify six key checkpoints in protocell development at which particular attention should be given to specific ethical, social and regulatory issues concerning bottom-up synthetic biology, and make ten recommendations for responsible protocell science that are tied to the achievement of these checkpoints.
Dragojlovic, Nicolas; Einsiedel, Edna
Using evidence from a 2010 survey of 32 European publics, this article argues that belief in God increases disapproval for synthetic biology through two different mechanisms, depending on the strength of the individual's belief. Among weak believers, belief in God appears to be associated with the increased availability and accessibility of the idea that genetic manipulation interferes with nature. Strong believers, in contrast, appear to also engage in an explicitly theological evaluation of synthetic biology, with opposition to synthetic biology resulting from the perception that the creation of new types of organisms encroaches on a domain of activity (creation) that has traditionally been considered to be a divine prerogative. Overall, our findings suggest that value predispositions can influence public attitudes towards synthetic biology even when individuals engage in explicit deliberation about the technology in question.
Redford, Kent H; Adams, William; Mace, Georgina M
So far, conservation scientists have paid little attention to synthetic biology; this is unfortunate as the technology is likely to transform the operating space within which conservation functions, and therefore the prospects for maintaining biodiversity into the future.
Not only the public debate about science but even the way scientists conceive their own work is to some extent determined by cultural images. In the case of synthetic biology, literary figures like the Golem of Prague and its successors, such as Frankenstein's monster, seem to suggest themselves. This article reconstructs some cognitive structures underlying the surface of metaphorical thinking and shows how talking about synthetic biology as similar to Golem-making obscures important ontological, pragmatic, and ethical differences.
Kelwick, Richard; Bowater, Laura; Yeoman, Kay H; Bowater, Richard P
Synthetic biology has developed rapidly in the 21st century. It covers a range of scientific disciplines that incorporate principles from engineering to take advantage of and improve biological systems, often applied to specific problems. Methods important in this subject area include the systematic design and testing of biological systems and, here, we describe how synthetic biology projects frequently develop microbiology skills and education. Synthetic biology research has huge potential in biotechnology and medicine, which brings important ethical and moral issues to address, offering learning opportunities about the wider impact of microbiological research. Synthetic biology projects have developed into wide-ranging training and educational experiences through iGEM, the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition. Elements of the competition are judged against specific criteria and teams can win medals and prizes across several categories. Collaboration is an important element of iGEM, and all DNA constructs synthesized by iGEM teams are made available to all researchers through the Registry for Standard Biological Parts. An overview of microbiological developments in the iGEM competition is provided. This review is targeted at educators that focus on microbiology and synthetic biology, but will also be of value to undergraduate and postgraduate students with an interest in this exciting subject area. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com.
Chakravarti, Deboki; Cho, Jang Hwan; Weinberg, Benjamin H; Wong, Nicole M; Wong, Wilson W
Investigations into cells and their contents have provided evolving insight into the emergence of complex biological behaviors. Capitalizing on this knowledge, synthetic biology seeks to manipulate the cellular machinery towards novel purposes, extending discoveries from basic science to new applications. While these developments have demonstrated the potential of building with biological parts, the complexity of cells can pose numerous challenges. In this review, we will highlight the broad and vital role that the synthetic biology approach has played in applying fundamental biological discoveries in receptors, genetic circuits, and genome-editing systems towards translation in the fields of immunotherapy, biosensors, disease models and gene therapy. These examples are evidence of the strength of synthetic approaches, while also illustrating considerations that must be addressed when developing systems around living cells.
吕永坤; 堵国成; 陈坚; 周景文
Synthetic biology is an applied discipline that introduces engineering into biology. The aim of synthetic biology is to standardize and modularize biological parts. It can also be applied in the basic researches,such as the research of life origin. This review gives a detailed introduction to the synthetic biology,especially the new methods and applications.%合成生物学是一门将生物学工程化的应用学科，目的在于将生命元件标准化和模块化；也可用于生命起源等基础理论研究。对合成生物学进行了较为详细地介绍，主要综述了合成生物学领域新出现的方法及应用。
Race, Margaret S.; Moses, Jacob; McKay, Christopher; Venkateswaran, Kasthuri J.
Although the field of synthetic biology is still in its infancy, there are expectations for great advances in the coming decades, both on Earth and potentially in space. Promising applications for long duration space missions include a variety of biologically engineered products and biologically aided processes and technologies, which will undoubtedly be scrutinized for risks and benefits in the broad context of ethical, legal and social realms. By comparing and contrasting features of Earth-based and space-applied synthetic biology, it is possible to identify the likely similarities and differences, and to identify possible challenges ahead for space applications that will require additional research, both in the short and long terms. Using an analytical framework associated with synthetic biology and new technologies on Earth, this paper analyses the kinds of issues and concerns ahead, and identifies those areas where space applications may require additional examination. In general, while Earth- and space-based synthetic biology share many commonalities, space applications have additional challenges such as those raised by space microbiology and environmental factors, legal complications, planetary protection, lack of decision-making infrastructure(s), long duration human missions, terraforming and the possible discovery of extraterrestrial (ET) life. For synthetic biology, the way forward offers many exciting opportunities, but is not without legitimate concerns - for life, environments and society, both on Earth and beyond.
Whitacre James M
Full Text Available Abstract A full accounting of biological robustness remains elusive; both in terms of the mechanisms by which robustness is achieved and the forces that have caused robustness to grow over evolutionary time. Although its importance to topics such as ecosystem services and resilience is well recognized, the broader relationship between robustness and evolution is only starting to be fully appreciated. A renewed interest in this relationship has been prompted by evidence that mutational robustness can play a positive role in the discovery of adaptive innovations (evolvability and evidence of an intimate relationship between robustness and complexity in biology. This paper offers a new perspective on the mechanics of evolution and the origins of complexity, robustness, and evolvability. Here we explore the hypothesis that degeneracy, a partial overlap in the functioning of multi-functional components, plays a central role in the evolution and robustness of complex forms. In support of this hypothesis, we present evidence that degeneracy is a fundamental source of robustness, it is intimately tied to multi-scaled complexity, and it establishes conditions that are necessary for system evolvability.
Autonomous Navigation Sensing UNCLASSIFIED/UNLIMITED (g) Long duration broadband calls are presently described only for the Malagasy sucker -footed bat...approach . Target size was found not to affect call intensity during approach to targets of varying size in M. daubentonii . In synthetic sensing...between target strength and frequency was developed for spheres by Lord Rayleigh over a century ago, the theoretical relationship between prey size and
Froyd, J D
Agricultural chemical companies have invested in the discovery and development of biological pesticides to complement synthetic pesticides for the control of insects, diseases, and weeds on agronomic and horticultural crops. For plant disease control, companies envisage biological fungicides entering markets where they have the best chance of performing and which are most receptive to using biological control methods. Fewer regulatory requirements can mean faster registration for a biological than a synthetic pesticide. However, industry's requirements for competitive performance, effective formulations, and economic production can mean significant investments in time and money for a biological pesticide, although total investment may be less than for a synthetic pesticide. One biocontrol project in which industry has invested is baculoviruses for insect control. Insect baculoviruses, genetically modified to kill insects faster than wild-type viruses, are attractive biocontrol agents because their selectivity to insect pests and safety to beneficial insects and mammals enable them to compete with synthetic insecticides. Industry is looking for similar biocontrol opportunities in disease control. Biocontrol agents for seedling disease, root rot, and postharvest disease control have been registered by the EPA and are trying to compete with synthetic fungicides for market share. To date, effective biocontrol agents have not been identified for the control of serious foliar diseases, such as grape downy mildew, potato late blight, wheat powdery mildew, and apple scab. Farmers must rely on synthetic fungicides and agronomic methods to control these diseases for the foreseeable future.
Paolo Antonio Netti
Full Text Available Chemical signals propagating through aqueous environment are at the basis of the language utilized by living systems to exchange information. In the last years, molecular biology has partly disclosed the grammar and the syntax of this complex language revealing the fascinating world of molecular communication that is the foundation of biological development.
Silver, Pamela [Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA (United States); SEED 2015 Conference Chair; Flach, Evan [American Institute of Chemical Engineers; SEED 2015 Conference Organizer
Synthetic Biology is an emerging discipline that seeks to accelerate the process of engineering biology. As such, the tools are broadly applicable to application areas, including chemicals and biofuels, materials, medicine and agriculture. A characteristic of the field is to look holistically at cellular design, from sensing and genetic circuitry to the manipulation of cellular processes and actuators, to controlling metabolism, to programming multicellular behaviors. Further, the types of cells that are manipulated are broad, from in vitro systems to microbes and fungi to mammalian and plant cells and living animals. Many of the projects in synthetic biology seek to move biochemical functions across organisms. The field is highly interdisciplinary with faculty and students spread across departments that focus on engineering (biological, chemical, electrical, mechanical, civil, computer science) and basic science (biology and systems biology, chemistry, physics). While there have been many one-off workshops and meeting on synthetic biology, the 2014 Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution and Design (SEED) was the first of an annual conference series that serves as a reliable place to pull together the involved disciplines in order to organize and exchange advances in the science and technology in the field. Further, the SEED conferences have a strong focus on industry, with many companies represented and actively participating. A number of these companies have started major efforts in synthetic biology including large companies (e.g., Pfizer, Novartis, Dow, Dupont, BP, Total), smaller companies have recently gone public (e.g., Amyris, Gevo, Intrexon), and many start-ups (e.g., Teslagen, Refactored Materials, Pivot, Genomatica). There are a number of loosely affiliated Synthetic Biology Centers, including ones at MIT, Boston University, UCSD, UCSF, UC-Berkeley, Imperial College, Oxford, and ETH. SEED 2015 will serve as the primary meeting at which international
Mitchell, Rudolph; Dori, Yehudit Judy; Kuldell, Natalie H.
Unlike students in other engineering disciplines, undergraduates in biological engineering typically have limited opportunity to develop design competencies, and even fewer chances to implement their designed projects. The international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition is a student Synthetic Biology competition that, in 2009,…
Mitchell, Rudolph; Dori, Yehudit Judy; Kuldell, Natalie H.
Unlike students in other engineering disciplines, undergraduates in biological engineering typically have limited opportunity to develop design competencies, and even fewer chances to implement their designed projects. The international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition is a student Synthetic Biology competition that, in 2009,…
Lienert, Florian; Lohmueller, Jason J; Garg, Abhishek; Silver, Pamela A
Recent progress in DNA manipulation and gene circuit engineering has greatly improved our ability to programme and probe mammalian cell behaviour. These advances have led to a new generation of synthetic biology research tools and potential therapeutic applications. Programmable DNA-binding domains and RNA regulators are leading to unprecedented control of gene expression and elucidation of gene function. Rebuilding complex biological circuits such as T cell receptor signalling in isolation from their natural context has deepened our understanding of network motifs and signalling pathways. Synthetic biology is also leading to innovative therapeutic interventions based on cell-based therapies, protein drugs, vaccines and gene therapies. PMID:24434884
Volatility of oil prices along with major concerns about climate change, oil supply security and depleting reserves have sparked renewed interest in the production of fuels from renewable resources. Recent advances in synthetic biology provide new tools for metabolic engineers to direct their strategies and construct optimal biocatalysts for the sustainable production of biofuels. Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology efforts entailing the engineering of native and de novo pathways for conversion of biomass constituents to short-chain alcohols and advanced biofuels are herewith reviewed. In the foreseeable future, formal integration of functional genomics and systems biology with synthetic biology and metabolic engineering will undoubtedly support the discovery, characterization, and engineering of new metabolic routes and more efficient microbial systems for the production of biofuels. PMID:20089184
Saukshmya, Trichi; Chugh, Archana
Synthetic Biology is a surging area of contemporary life science based research that is rapidly evolving by virtue of its multidisciplinary composition and applications. Biology never before has seen such a gold rush and demonstrated potential for knowledge based economy. The area of synthetic biology is in a nascent and tender stage, however issues pertaining to open access to research versus the monopolistic intellectual property regime (specifically patents) have already started raising concerns in the emerging bio-based economy. The present study critically analyses the comparative benefits as well as lacunas of open access to research and patenting issues. It is noteworthy that both approaches for synthetic biology development have to co-exist in order to optimally benefit the society at large.
Engelhard, Margret; Toepfer, Georg
"Synthetic biology" is the label of a new technoscientific field with many different facets and agendas. One common aim is to "create life", primarily by using engineering principles to design and modify biological systems for human use. In a wider context, the topic has become one of the big cases in the legitimization processes associated with the political agenda to solve global problems with the aid of (bio-)technological innovation. Conceptual-level and meta-level analyses are needed: we should sort out conceptual ambiguities to agree on what we talk about, and we need to spell out agendas to see the disagreements clearly. The book is based on the interdisciplinary summer school "Analyzing the societal dimensions of synthetic biology", which took place in Berlin in September 2014. The contributions address controversial discussions around the philosophical examination, public perception, moral evaluation and governance of synthetic biology.
Berliner, Aaron J.
Although methods in the design-build-test life cycle of the synthetic biology field have grown rapidly, the expansion has been non-uniform. The design and build stages in development have seen innovations in the form of biological CAD and more efficient means for building DNA, RNA, and other biological constructs. The testing phase of the cycle remains in need of innovation. Presented will be both a theoretical abstraction of biological measurement and a practical demonstration of a microfluidics-based platform for characterizing synthetic biological phenomena. Such a platform demonstrates a design of additive manufacturing (3D printing) for construction of a microbial fuel cell (MFC) to be used in experiments carried out in space. First, the biocompatibility of the polypropylene chassis will be demonstrated. The novel MFCs will be cheaper, and faster to make and iterate through designs. The novel design will contain a manifold switchingdistribution system and an integrated in-chip set of reagent reservoirs fabricated via 3D printing. The automated nature of the 3D printing yields itself to higher resolution switching valves and leads to smaller sized payloads, lower cost, reduced power and a standardized platform for synthetic biology unit tests on Earth and in space. It will be demonstrated that the application of unit testing in synthetic biology will lead to the automatic construction and validation of desired constructs. Unit testing methodologies offer benefits of preemptive problem identification, change of facility, simplicity of integration, ease of documentation, and separation of interface from implementation, and automated design.
Goers, Lisa; Freemont, Paul; Polizzi, Karen M
Co-culture techniques find myriad applications in biology for studying natural or synthetic interactions between cell populations. Such techniques are of great importance in synthetic biology, as multi-species cell consortia and other natural or synthetic ecology systems are widely seen to hold enormous potential for foundational research as well as novel industrial, medical and environmental applications with many proof-of-principle studies in recent years. What is needed for co-cultures to fulfil their potential? Cell-cell interactions in co-cultures are strongly influenced by the extracellular environment, which is determined by the experimental set-up, which therefore needs to be given careful consideration. An overview of existing experimental and theoretical co-culture set-ups in synthetic biology and adjacent fields is given here, and challenges and opportunities involved in such experiments are discussed. Greater focus on foundational technology developments for co-cultures is needed for many synthetic biology systems to realize their potential in both applications and answering biological questions.
Balla, Andrea; Quaresima, Silvia; Smolarek, Sebastian; Shalaby, Mostafa; Missori, Giulia; Sileri, Pierpaolo
This review reports the incidence of mesh-related erosion after ventral mesh rectopexy to determine whether any difference exists in the erosion rate between synthetic and biological mesh. A systematic search of the MEDLINE and the Ovid databases was conducted to identify suitable articles published between 2004 and 2015. The search strategy capture terms were laparoscopic ventral mesh rectopexy, laparoscopic anterior rectopexy, robotic ventral rectopexy, and robotic anterior rectopexy. Eight studies (3,956 patients) were included in this review. Of those patients, 3,517 patients underwent laparoscopic ventral rectopexy (LVR) using synthetic mesh and 439 using biological mesh. Sixty-six erosions were observed with synthetic mesh (26 rectal, 32 vaginal, 8 recto-vaginal fistulae) and one (perineal erosion) with biological mesh. The synthetic and the biological mesh-related erosion rates were 1.87% and 0.22%, respectively. The time between rectopexy and diagnosis of mesh erosion ranged from 1.7 to 124 months. No mesh-related mortalities were reported. The incidence of mesh-related erosion after LVR is low and is more common after the placement of synthetic mesh. The use of biological mesh for LVR seems to be a safer option; however, large, multicenter, randomized, control trials with long follow-ups are required if a definitive answer is to be obtained.
Juhas, Mario; Ajioka, James W
DNA assembly is the key technology of the emerging interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology. While the assembly of smaller DNA fragments is usually performed in vitro, high molecular weight DNA molecules are assembled in vivo via homologous recombination in the host cell. Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are the main hosts used for DNA assembly in vivo. Progress in DNA assembly over the last few years has paved the way for the construction of whole genomes. This review provides an update on recent synthetic biology advances with particular emphasis on high molecular weight DNA assembly in vivo in E. coli, B. subtilis and S. cerevisiae. Special attention is paid to the assembly of whole genomes, such as those of the first synthetic cell, synthetic yeast and minimal genomes.
Andries, Oliwia; Kitada, Tasuku; Bodner, Katie; Sanders, Niek N; Weiss, Ron
Nucleic acid vaccines have been gaining attention as an alternative to the standard attenuated pathogen or protein based vaccine. However, an unrealized advantage of using such DNA or RNA based vaccination modalities is the ability to program within these nucleic acids regulatory devices that would provide an immunologist with the power to control the production of antigens and adjuvants in a desirable manner by administering small molecule drugs as chemical triggers. Advances in synthetic biology have resulted in the creation of highly predictable and modular genetic parts and devices that can be composed into synthetic gene circuits with complex behaviors. With the recent advent of modified RNA gene delivery methods and developments in the RNA replicon platform, we foresee a future in which mammalian synthetic biologists will create genetic circuits encoded exclusively on RNA. Here, we review the current repertoire of devices used in RNA synthetic biology and propose how programmable 'smart vaccines' will revolutionize the field of RNA vaccination.
Currin, Andrew; Swainston, Neil; Day, Philip J; Kell, Douglas B
offers opportunities for protein improvement not readily available to natural evolution on rapid timescales. Intelligent landscape navigation, informed by sequence-activity relationships and coupled to the emerging methods of synthetic biology, offers scope for the development of novel biocatalysts that are both highly active and robust.
Currin, Andrew; Swainston, Neil; Day, Philip J.
, simultaneously, this offers opportunities for protein improvement not readily available to natural evolution on rapid timescales. Intelligent landscape navigation, informed by sequence-activity relationships and coupled to the emerging methods of synthetic biology, offers scope for the development of novel biocatalysts that are both highly active and robust. PMID:25503938
Carbonell-Ballestero, M.; Duran-Nebreda, S.; Montanez, R.; Sole, R.; Macia, J.; Rodriguez-Caso, C.
Within the field of synthetic biology, a rational design of genetic parts should include a causal understanding of their input-output responses-the so-called transfer function-and how to tune them. However, a commonly adopted strategy is to fit data to Hill-shaped curves without considering the underlying molecular mechanisms. Here we provide a novel mathematical formalization that allows prediction of the global behavior of a synthetic device by considering the actual information from the in...
Minssen, Timo; Wested, Jakob
(ICT) to biological standards? These and further legal issues related to IP, regulation, standardization, competition law & open innovation require a careful consideration of new user-generated models and solutions. Before this background this paper seeks to describe IP and standardization aspects...
Full Text Available This article criticly engages with 1 synthetic biologys’ technoscientific specifica, 2 the role of biotechnical and biopolitical promises of perfectibility of‚ life itself’, and 3 the problematic notion of ‘digital biology’. Synthetic biology dismisses the idea of an already given nature: ‘life itself’ is conceptualized as a field of potentialities, with adaptable materials and flexible structures that can be used for re-engineering to ‘perfect’ nature. Bioengineers claim to create new living organisms from scratch, using genetically standardized parts and computer-based design: ‘Living machines’ which do not exist in nature are supposed to serve human purposes. Beyond its actual (and limited state of research, some voices of synthetic biology offer bold claims of socio-technical scenarios, imagined objects, and future biotechnical experiments, which take place in society rather than behind laboratory doors. With their visions, synthetic biologists are becoming engineers of future societies. Synthetic biology develops a ‘biotechnologization of collective futures’ and it is part of a technoscientific ‘promise- economy’ that aims on colonizing the future - which demands to rethink Foucaults the question of biopolitics. Crucial for synthetic biologys’ promise of ‘digital biology’ are script-centered, bio-cybernetic, and even transhumanist figures of thought that fuel new visions of ‘life and nature’ as a field of potentials and even limitless treasures that can be programmed and produced by computational procedures: ‘writing’ the code of life.
Minssen, Timo; Rutz, Berthold; van Zimmeren, Esther
for a definition that enables risk assessment.In order to promote an adequate development of SB that will secure innovation and cooperation and prevent fragmentation, it is important to identify and assess new risks and other issues early on to enable scientists, industry, funding agencies and other stakeholders...... questions: What is the impact of the current IP framework on innovation in SB? Is there any empirical evidence of a negative/positive impact? If there is a negative impact, are there particular innovative solutions or models employed in other sectors that could support the robust development of SB?The aim...... of this publication is to provide an unbiased overview of the major issues and recommendations discussed during the expert meeting. Although SB may involve many different IPRs, the discussions focused in particular on patents and patent-related rights. It should be emphasized, that the authors of the current document...
Urbina-Navarrete, J.; Rothschild, L.
End-of-life electronics waste (e-waste) containing toxic and valuable materials is a rapidly progressing human health and environmental issue. Using synthetic biology tools, we have developed a recycling method for e-waste. Our innovation is to use a recombinant version of a naturally-occurring silica-degrading enzyme to depolymerize the silica in metal- and glass- containing e-waste components, and subsequently, to use engineered bacterial surfaces to bind and separate metals from a solution. The bacteria with bound metals can then be used as "bio-ink" to print new circuits using a novel plasma jet electronics printing technology. Here, we present the results from our initial studies that focus on the specificity of metal-binding motifs for a cognate metal. The candidate motifs that show high affinity and specificity will be engineered into bacterial surfaces for downstream applications in biologically-mediated metal recycling. Since the chemistry and role of Cu in metalloproteins is relatively well-characterized, we are using Cu as a proxy to elucidate metal and biological ligand interactions with various metals in e-waste. We assess the binding parameters of 3 representative classes of Cu-binding motifs using isothermal titration calorimetry; 1) natural motifs found in metalloproteins, 2) consensus motifs, and 3) rationally designed peptides that are predicted, in silico, to bind Cu. Our results indicate that naturally-occurring motifs have relative high affinity and specificity for Cu (association constant for Cu Ka 104 M-1, Zn Ka 103 M-1) when competing ions are present in the aqueous milieu. However, motifs developed through rational design by applying quantum mechanical methods that take into account complexation energies of the elemental binding partners and molecular geometry of the cognate metal, not only show high affinity for the cognate metal (Cu Ka 106 M-1), but they show specificity and discrimination against other metal ions that would be
Rothschild, Lynn J.; Fujishima, Kosuke; Lima, Ivan Paulino; Gentry, Diana; Phan, Samson; Navarette, Jesica; Palmer, Jesse; Burnier, Andre
Synthetic biology – the design and construction of new biological parts and systems and the redesign of existing ones for useful purposes – has the potential to transform fields from pharmaceuticals to fuels. Our lab has focused on the potential of synthetic biology to revolutionize all three major parts of astrobiology: Where do we come from? Where are we going? and Are we alone? For the first and third, synthetic biology is allowing us to answer whether the evolutionary narrative that has played out on planet earth is likely to have been unique or universal. For example, in our lab we are re-evolving biotic functions using only the most thermodynamically stable amino acids in order to understand potential capabilities of an early organism with a limited repertoire of amino acids. In the future synthetic biology will play an increasing role in human activities both on earth, in fields as diverse as bio-mining, human health and the industrial production of novel bio-composites. Beyond earth, we will rely increasingly on biologically-provided life support, as we have throughout our evolutionary history. In order to do this, the field will build on two of the great contributions of astrobiology: studies of the origin of life and life in extreme environments.
Full Text Available One goal of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology for cyanobacteria and microalgae is to engineer strains that can optimally produce biofuels and commodity chemicals. However, the current workflow is slow and labor intensive with respect to assembly of genetic parts and characterization of production yields because of the slow growth rates of these organisms. Here, we review recent progress in the microfluidic photobioreactors and identify opportunities and unmet needs in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. Because of the unprecedented experimental resolution down to the single cell level, long-term real-time monitoring capability, and high throughput with low cost, microfluidic photobioreactor technology will be an indispensible tool to speed up the development process, advance fundamental knowledge, and realize the full potential of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology for cyanobacteria and microalgae.
Edna N. Lamsen
Full Text Available The growing need to address current energy and environmental problems has sparked an interest in developing improved biological methods to produce liquid fuels from renewable sources. While microbial ethanol production is well established, higher chain alcohols possess chemical properties that are more similar to gasoline. Unfortunately, these alcohols (except 1-butanol are not produced efficiently in natural microorganisms, and thus economical production in industrial volumes remains a challenge. Synthetic biology, however, offers additional tools to engineer synthetic pathways in user-friendly hosts to help increase titers and productivity of these advanced biofuels. This review concentrates on recent developments in synthetic biology to produce higher-chain alcohols as viable renewable replacements for traditional fuel.
Tracy, Bryan P; Gaida, Stefan M; Papoutsakis, Eleftherios T
Flow cytometry (FC) and FC-based cell sorting have been established as critical tools in modern cell and developmental biology. Yet, their applications in bacteria, especially in the multiparametric mode, remain limited. We argue that FC technologies have the potential to greatly accelerate the analysis and development of microbial complex phenotypes through applications of metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and evolutionary engineering. We demonstrate the importance of FC for elucidating population heterogeneity because of developmental processes or epigenetic regulation. FC can be engaged for both synthetic and analytical applications of complex phenotypes within a single species, multispecies, and microbial-library populations. Examples include methods to identify developmental microbial stages associated with productive metabolic phenotypes, select desirable promoters from a single species or metagenomic libraries, and to screen designer riboswitches for synthetic-biology applications.
I discuss the moral significance of artificial life within synthetic biology via a discussion of Douglas, Powell and Savulescu's paper 'Is the creation of artificial life morally significant'. I argue that the definitions of 'artificial life' and of 'moral significance' are too narrow. Douglas, Powell and Savulescu's definition of artificial life does not capture all core projects of synthetic biology or the ethical concerns that have been voiced, and their definition of moral significance fails to take into account the possibility that creating artificial life is conditionally acceptable. Finally, I show how several important objections to synthetic biology are plausibly understood as arguing that creating artificial life in a wide sense is only conditionally acceptable.
Lewis, Daniel D; Villarreal, Fernando D; Wu, Fan; Tan, Cheemeng
As mathematical models become more commonly integrated into the study of biology, a common language for describing biological processes is manifesting. Many tools have emerged for the simulation of in vivo synthetic biological systems, with only a few examples of prominent work done on predicting the dynamics of cell-free synthetic systems. At the same time, experimental biologists have begun to study dynamics of in vitro systems encapsulated by amphiphilic molecules, opening the door for the development of a new generation of biomimetic systems. In this review, we explore both in vivo and in vitro models of biochemical networks with a special focus on tools that could be applied to the construction of cell-free expression systems. We believe that quantitative studies of complex cellular mechanisms and pathways in synthetic systems can yield important insights into what makes cells different from conventional chemical systems.
Gheorghe, Marian; Pérez-Jiménez, Mario
Membrane Computing was introduced as a computational paradigm in Natural Computing. The models introduced, called Membrane (or P) Systems, provide a coherent platform to describe and study living cells as computational systems. Membrane Systems have been investigated for their computational aspects and employed to model problems in other fields, like: Computer Science, Linguistics, Biology, Economy, Computer Graphics, Robotics, etc. Their inherent parallelism, heterogeneity and intrinsic versatility allow them to model a broad range of processes and phenomena, being also an efficient means to solve and analyze problems in a novel way. Membrane Computing has been used to model biological systems, becoming with time a thorough modeling paradigm comparable, in its modeling and predicting capabilities, to more established models in this area. This book is the result of the need to collect, in an organic way, different facets of this paradigm. The chapters of this book, together with the web pages accompanying th...
de Vos, Marjon G J; Poelwijk, Frank J; Tans, Sander J
Whether organisms evolve to perform tasks optimally has intrigued biologists since Lamarck and Darwin. Optimality models have been used to study diverse properties such as shape, locomotion, and behavior. However, without access to the genetic underpinnings or the ability to manipulate biological functions, it has been difficult to understand an organism's intrinsic potential and limitations. Now, novel experiments are overcoming these technical obstacles and have begun to test optimality in more quantitative terms. With the use of simple model systems, genetic engineering, and mathematical modeling, one can independently quantify the prevailing selective pressures and optimal phenotypes. These studies have given an exciting view into the evolutionary potential and constraints of biological systems, and hold the promise to further test the limits of predicting future evolutionary change.
Esvelt, Kevin Michael; Wang, Harris H.
Genome-modification technologies enable the rational engineering and perturbation of biological systems. Historically, these methods have been limited to gene insertions or mutations at random or at a few pre-defined locations across the genome. The handful of methods capable of targeted gene editing suffered from low efficiencies, significant labor costs, or both. Recent advances have dramatically expanded our ability to engineer cells in a directed and combinatorial manner. Here, we review ...
Blount, Benjamin A.; Weenink, Tim; Vasylechko, Serge; Ellis, Tom
Yeast is an ideal organism for the development and application of synthetic biology, yet there remain relatively few well-characterised biological parts suitable for precise engineering of this chassis. In order to address this current need, we present here a strategy that takes a single biological part, a promoter, and re-engineers it to produce a fine-graded output range promoter library and new regulated promoters desirable for orthogonal synthetic biology applications. A highly constitutive Saccharomyces cerevisiae promoter, PFY1p, was identified by bioinformatic approaches, characterised in vivo and diversified at its core sequence to create a 36-member promoter library. TetR regulation was introduced into PFY1p to create a synthetic inducible promoter (iPFY1p) that functions in an inverter device. Orthogonal and scalable regulation of synthetic promoters was then demonstrated for the first time using customisable Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) modified and designed to act as orthogonal repressors for specific PFY1-based promoters. The ability to diversify a promoter at its core sequences and then independently target Transcription Activator-Like Orthogonal Repressors (TALORs) to virtually any of these sequences shows great promise toward the design and construction of future synthetic gene networks that encode complex “multi-wire” logic functions. PMID:22442681
Blount, Benjamin A; Weenink, Tim; Vasylechko, Serge; Ellis, Tom
Yeast is an ideal organism for the development and application of synthetic biology, yet there remain relatively few well-characterised biological parts suitable for precise engineering of this chassis. In order to address this current need, we present here a strategy that takes a single biological part, a promoter, and re-engineers it to produce a fine-graded output range promoter library and new regulated promoters desirable for orthogonal synthetic biology applications. A highly constitutive Saccharomyces cerevisiae promoter, PFY1p, was identified by bioinformatic approaches, characterised in vivo and diversified at its core sequence to create a 36-member promoter library. TetR regulation was introduced into PFY1p to create a synthetic inducible promoter (iPFY1p) that functions in an inverter device. Orthogonal and scalable regulation of synthetic promoters was then demonstrated for the first time using customisable Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) modified and designed to act as orthogonal repressors for specific PFY1-based promoters. The ability to diversify a promoter at its core sequences and then independently target Transcription Activator-Like Orthogonal Repressors (TALORs) to virtually any of these sequences shows great promise toward the design and construction of future synthetic gene networks that encode complex "multi-wire" logic functions.
Capdevielle, Aurélie; Sýkorová, Eva; Béline, Fabrice; Daumer, Marie-Line
An experimental design was set up to understand the influence of five process parameters on the kinetics of struvite precipitation in synthetic swine wastewaters. The responses studied were the kinetics of phosphorus (P) removal, the struvite precipitation rate and the dissolution rate of amorphous calcium phosphates (ACP). The kinetic study showed that the P-removal was complete in less than 1 h and was influenced positively by the added MgO. The precipitation of struvite with MgO was confirmed to follow a first-order kinetic. This study showed that ACP co-precipitated with struvite during the first 30 min. Afterwards, ACP dissolved to maintain the phosphates balance limiting the struvite growth. An initial Mg:Ca > 1.5 induced a complete dissolution of ACP in 1 h. Another experiment was conducted and it validated the results of the statistical model. This experiment also determined that 7-10 h was the best time to recover large crystals. After 10 h, the crystals were broken by stirring.
Full Text Available Despite being a common viral disease, influenza has very negative consequences, causing the death of around half a million people each year. A neuraminidase located on the surface of the virus plays an important role in viral reproduction by contributing to the release of viruses from infected host cells. The treatment of influenza is mainly based on the administration of neuraminidase inhibitors. The neuraminidase inhibitors zanamivir, laninamivir, oseltamivir and peramivir have been commercialized and have been demonstrated to be potent influenza viral neuraminidase inhibitors against most influenza strains. In order to create more potent neuraminidase inhibitors and fight against the surge in resistance resulting from naturally-occurring mutations, these anti-influenza drugs have been used as templates for the development of new neuraminidase inhibitors through structure-activity relationship studies. Here, we review the synthetic routes to these commercial drugs, the modifications which have been performed on these structures and the effects of these modifications on their inhibitory activity.
Full Text Available In this article, we propose a domain specific language, GUBS (Genomic Unified Behavior Specification, dedicated to the behavioral specification of synthetic biological devices, viewed as discrete open dynamical systems. GUBS is a rule-based declarative language. By contrast to a closed system, a program is always a partial description of the behavior of the system. The semantics of the language accounts the existence of some hidden non-specified actions possibly altering the behavior of the programmed device. The compilation framework follows a scheme similar to automatic theorem proving, aiming at improving synthetic biological design safety.
Kim, Se Hyeuk; Cavaleiro, Mafalda; Rennig, Maja
DNA vectors serve to maintain and select recombinant DNA in cell factories, and as design complexity increases, there is a greater need for well-characterized parts and methods for their assembly. Standards in synthetic biology are top priority, but standardizing molecular cloning contrasts...... flexibility, and different researchers prefer and master different molecular technologies. Here, we describe a new, highly versatile and automatable standard “SEVA linkers” for vector exchange. SEVA linkers enable backbone swapping with 20 combinations of classical enzymatic restriction/ligation, Gibson...... to the synthetic biology community....
Baud, Matthias G J; Leiser, Thomas; Meyer-Almes, Franz-Josef; Fuchter, Matthew J
New synthetic routes towards the natural product psammaplin A were developed with the particular view to preparing diverse analogues for biological assessment. These routes utilize cheap and commercially available starting materials, and allowed access to psammaplin A analogues not accessible via currently reported methods. Preliminary biological studies revealed these compounds to be the most potent non peptidic inhibitors of the enzyme histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1, class I) discovered so far. Interestingly, psammaplin A and our synthetic analogues show class I selectivity in vitro, an important feature for the design and synthesis of future isoform selective inhibitors.
Bionics (the imitation or abstraction of the “inventions of nature) and, to an even greater extent, synthetic biology, will be as relevant to engineering development and industry as the silicon chip was over the last 50 years. Chemical industries already use so-called “white biotechnology” for new processes, new raw materials, and more sustainable use of resources. Synthetic biology is also used for the development of second-generation biofuels and for harvesting the sun's energy with the hel...
Popović-Đorđević Jelena B.
Full Text Available Glutarimides, 2,6-dioxopiperidines are compounds that rarely occur in natural sources, but so far isolated ones exert widespread pharmacological activities, which makes them valuable as potential pharmacotherapeutics. Glutarimides act as androgen receptor antagonists, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytics, antibacterials, and tumor suppressing agents. Some synthetic glutarimide derivatives are already in use as immunosuppressive and sedative (e.g., thalidomide or anxiolytics (buspirone drugs. The wide applicability of this class of compounds, justify the interest of scientists to explore new pathways for its syntheses. General methods for synthesis of six-membered imide ring, are presented in this paper. These methods include: a reaction of dicarboxylic acids with ammonia or primary amine, b reactions of cyclization: amido-acids, diamides, dinitriles, nitrilo-acids, amido-nitriles, amido-esters, amidoacyl-chlorides or diacyl-chlorides, c adition of carbon-monoxide on a,b-unsaturated amides, d oxidation reactions, e Michael adition of active methylen compounds on methacrylamide or conjugated amides. Some of the described methods are used for closing glutarimide ring in syntheses of farmacological active compounds sesbanimide and aldose reductase inhibitors (ARI. Analyses of the geometry, as well as, the spectroscopic analyses (NMR and FT-IR of some glutarimides are presented because of their broad spectrum of pharmacological activity. To elucidate structures of glutarimides, geometrical parameters of newly synthesized tert-pentyl-1-benzyl-4-methyl-glutarimide-3-carboxylate (PBMG are analyzed and compared with the experimental data from X-ray analysis for glutarimide. Moreover, molecular electrostatic potential (MEP surface which is plotted over the optimized geometry to elucidate the reactivity of PBMG molecule is analyzed. The electronic properties of glutarimide derivatives are explained on the example of thalidomide. The Frontier Molecular Orbital
Esvelt, Kevin M; Wang, Harris H
Genome-modification technologies enable the rational engineering and perturbation of biological systems. Historically, these methods have been limited to gene insertions or mutations at random or at a few pre-defined locations across the genome. The handful of methods capable of targeted gene editing suffered from low efficiencies, significant labor costs, or both. Recent advances have dramatically expanded our ability to engineer cells in a directed and combinatorial manner. Here, we review current technologies and methodologies for genome-scale engineering, discuss the prospects for extending efficient genome modification to new hosts, and explore the implications of continued advances toward the development of flexibly programmable chasses, novel biochemistries, and safer organismal and ecological engineering. PMID:23340847
Esvelt, Kevin M; Wang, Harris H
Genome-modification technologies enable the rational engineering and perturbation of biological systems. Historically, these methods have been limited to gene insertions or mutations at random or at a few pre-defined locations across the genome. The handful of methods capable of targeted gene editing suffered from low efficiencies, significant labor costs, or both. Recent advances have dramatically expanded our ability to engineer cells in a directed and combinatorial manner. Here, we review current technologies and methodologies for genome-scale engineering, discuss the prospects for extending efficient genome modification to new hosts, and explore the implications of continued advances toward the development of flexibly programmable chasses, novel biochemistries, and safer organismal and ecological engineering.
Pezzotti, Giuseppe; McEntire, Bryan J.; Bock, Ryan; Boffelli, Marco; Zhu, Wenliang; Vitale, Eleonora; Puppulin, Leonardo; Adachi, Tetsuya; Yamamoto, Toshiro; Kanamura, Narisato; Bal, B. Sonny
The remarkable stoichiometric flexibility of hydroxyapatite (HAp) enables the formation of a variety of charged structural sites at the material’s surface which facilitates bone remodeling due to binding of biomolecule moieties in zwitterionic fashion. In this paper, we report for the first time that an optimized biomedical grade silicon nitride (Si3N4) demonstrated cell adhesion and improved osteoconductivity comparable to highly defective, non-stoichiometric natural hydroxyapatite. Si3N4’s zwitterionic-like behavior is a function of the dualism between positive and negative charged off-stoichiometric sites (i.e., N-vacancies versus silanols groups, respectively). Lattice defects at the biomaterial’s surface greatly promote interaction with positively- and negatively-charged functional groups in biomolecules, and result in the biologically effective characteristics of silicon nitride. These findings are anticipated to be a starting point for further discoveries of therapeutic bone-graft substitute materials.
Schulte, Eric; Fast, Ethan; Forrest, Stephanie; Weimer, Westley
In the mutation testing paradigm, test suite quality is measured by its ability to detect variant programs generated through application of random changes to an original program. In evolutionary biology however, neutral mutations that leave fitness unchanged are considered to be beneficial---improving the system's robustness and ability to discover evolutionary improvements. In this paper, we generate a population of variant programs from an original program by applying lightweight random mutations. We adopt biological terminology and refer to undetected variants as neutral, and the percentage of all variants that are neutral as mutational robustness. Although they are related to equivalent mutants in mutation testing, which are viewed as problematic, we show positive properties of neutral variants which are easily generated and can be used to protect software against unknown defects. Even when mutations are restricted to statements executed by the test suit, we find that mutational robustness is high: 36.75%...
Apri, M.; Molenaar, J.; Gee, de M.; Voorn, van G.A.K.
Robustness is an essential feature of biological systems, and any mathematical model that describes such a system should reflect this feature. Especially, persistence of oscillatory behavior is an important issue. A benchmark model for this phenomenon is the Laub-Loomis model, a nonlinear model for
Ohno, Hirohisa; Saito, Hirohide
Recent technologies that aimed to elucidate cellular function have revealed essential roles for RNA molecules in living systems. Our knowledge concerning functional and structural information of naturally occurring RNA and RNA-protein (RNP) complexes is increasing rapidly. RNA and RNP interaction motifs are structural units that function as building blocks to constitute variety of complex structures. RNA-central synthetic biology and nanotechnology are constructive approaches that employ the accumulated information and build synthetic RNA (RNP)-based circuits and nanostructures. Here, we describe how to design and construct synthetic RNA (RNP)-based devices and structures at the nanometer-scale for biological and future therapeutic applications. RNA/RNP nanostructures can also be utilized as the molecular scaffold to control the localization or interactions of target molecule(s). Moreover, RNA motifs recognized by RNA-binding proteins can be applied to make protein-responsive translational "switches" that can turn gene expression "on" or "off" depending on the intracellular environment. This "synthetic RNA and RNP world" will expand tools for nanotechnology and synthetic biology. In addition, these reconstructive approaches would lead to a greater understanding of building principle in naturally occurring RNA/RNP molecules and systems. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Jason R. King
Full Text Available In this perspective, we highlight recent examples and trends in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology that demonstrate the synthetic potential of enzyme and pathway engineering for natural product discovery. In doing so, we introduce natural paradigms of secondary metabolism whereby simple carbon substrates are combined into complex molecules through “scaffold diversification”, and subsequent “derivatization” of these scaffolds is used to synthesize distinct complex natural products. We provide examples in which modern pathway engineering efforts including combinatorial biosynthesis and biological retrosynthesis can be coupled to directed enzyme evolution and rational enzyme engineering to allow access to the “privileged” chemical space of natural products in industry-proven microbes. Finally, we forecast the potential to produce natural product-like discovery platforms in biological systems that are amenable to single-step discovery, validation, and synthesis for streamlined discovery and production of biologically active agents.
The complexity of cell-matrix adhesion convolves its roles in the development and functioning of multicellular organisms and their evolutionary tinkering. Cell-matrix adhesion is mediated by sites along the plasma membrane that anchor the actin cytoskeleton to the matrix via a large number of proteins, collectively called the integrin adhesome. Fundamental challenges for understanding how cell-matrix adhesion sites assemble and function arise from their multi-functionality, rapid dynamics, large number of components and molecular diversity. Systems biology faces these challenges in its strive to understand how the integrin adhesome gives rise to functional adhesion sites. Synthetic biology enables engineering intracellular modules and circuits with properties of interest. In this review I discuss some of the fundamental questions in systems biology of cell-matrix adhesion and how synthetic biology can help addressing them.
Wei, Ting-Yen; Cheng, Chao-Min
Infectious diseases outpace all other causes of death in low-income countries, posing global health risks, laying stress on healthcare systems and societies, and taking an avoidable human toll. One solution to this crisis is early diagnosis of infectious disease, which represents a powerful way to optimize treatment, increase patient survival rate, and decrease healthcare costs. However, conventional early diagnosis methods take a long time to generate results, lack accuracy, and are known to seriously underperform with regard to fungal and viral infections. Synthetic biology offers a fast and highly accurate alternative to conventional infectious disease diagnosis. In this review, we outline obstacles to infectious disease diagnostics and discuss two emerging alternatives: synthetic viral diagnostic systems and biosensors. We argue that these synthetic biology-based approaches may overcome diagnostic obstacles in infectious disease and improve health outcomes.
Chavez, Michael; Ho, Jonathan; Tan, Cheemeng
Plate-reader assays are commonly conducted to quantify the performance of synthetic biological systems. However, on the basis of a survey of 100 publications, we find that most publications do not report critical experimental settings of plate reader assays, suggesting widespread issues in their reproducibility. Specifically, critical plate reader settings, including shaking time and covering method, either vary between laboratories or are not reported by the publications. Here, we demonstrate that the settings of plate reader assays have a significant impact on bacterial growth, recombinant gene expression, and biofilm formation. Furthermore, we show that the plate reader settings affect the apparent activity, sensitivity, and chemical kinetics of synthetic constructs, as well as alter the apparent effectiveness of antibiotics. Our results suggest the critical need for consistent reporting of plate reader protocols to ensure the reproducibility of the protocols. In addition, our work provides data for the setup of plate reader protocols in synthetic biology experiments.
Ferry, M S; Razinkov, I A; Hasty, J
With the expanding interest in cellular responses to dynamic environments, microfluidic devices have become important experimental platforms for biological research. Microfluidic "microchemostat" devices enable precise environmental control while capturing high quality, single-cell gene expression data. For studies of population heterogeneity and gene expression noise, these abilities are crucial. Here, we describe the necessary steps for experimental microfluidics using devices created in our lab as examples. First, we discuss the rational design of microchemostats and the tools available to predict their performance. We carefully analyze the critical parts of an example device, focusing on the most important part of any microchemostat: the cell trap. Next, we present a method for generating on-chip dynamic environments using an integrated fluidic junction coupled to linear actuators. Our system relies on the simple modulation of hydrostatic pressure to alter the mixing ratio between two source reservoirs and we detail the software and hardware behind it. To expand the throughput of microchemostat experiments, we describe how to build larger, parallel versions of simpler devices. To analyze the large amounts of data, we discuss methods for automated cell tracking, focusing on the special problems presented by Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. The manufacturing of microchemostats is described in complete detail: from the photolithographic processing of the wafer to the final bonding of the PDMS chip to glass coverslip. Finally, the procedures for conducting Escherichia coli and S. cerevisiae microchemostat experiments are addressed.
Hillson, Nathan J; Plahar, Hector A; Beal, Jacob; Prithviraj, Ranjini
Research is communicated more effectively and reproducibly when articles depict genetic designs consistently and fully disclose the complete sequences of all reported constructs. ACS Synthetic Biology is now providing authors with updated guidance and piloting a new tool and publication workflow that facilitate compliance with these recommended practices and standards for visual representation and data exchange.
Belt, van den H.
The emergent new science of synthetic biology is challenging entrenched distinctions between, amongst others, life and non-life, the natural and the artificial, the evolved and the designed, and even the material and the informational. Whenever such culturally sanctioned boundaries are breached, res
Medema, Marnix H.; Breitling, Rainer; Bovenberg, Roel; Takano, Eriko
One of the most promising applications of synthetic biology is the biosynthesis of new drugs from secondary metabolites. Here, we survey a wide range of strategies that control the activity of biosynthetic modules in the cell in space and time, and illustrate how these strategies can be used to desi
van den Belt, Henk
The emergent new science of synthetic biology is challenging entrenched distinctions between, amongst others, life and non-life, the natural and the artificial, the evolved and the designed, and even the material and the informational. Whenever such culturally sanctioned boundaries are breached, researchers are inevitably accused of playing God or treading in Frankenstein's footsteps. Bioethicists, theologians and editors of scientific journals feel obliged to provide an authoritative answer to the ambiguous question of the 'meaning' of life, both as a scientific definition and as an explication with wider existential connotations. This article analyses the arguments mooted in the emerging societal debates on synthetic biology and the way its practitioners respond to criticism, mostly by assuming a defiant posture or professing humility. It explores the relationship between the 'playing God' theme and the Frankenstein motif and examines the doctrinal status of the 'playing God' argument. One particularly interesting finding is that liberal theologians generally deny the religious character of the 'playing God' argument-a response which fits in with the curious fact that this argument is used mainly by secular organizations. Synthetic biology, it is therefore maintained, does not offend so much the God of the Bible as a deified Nature. While syntheses of artificial life forms cause some vague uneasiness that life may lose its special meaning, most concerns turn out to be narrowly anthropocentric. As long as synthetic biology creates only new microbial life and does not directly affect human life, it will in all likelihood be considered acceptable.
Belt, van den H.
The emergent new science of synthetic biology is challenging entrenched distinctions between, amongst others, life and non-life, the natural and the artificial, the evolved and the designed, and even the material and the informational. Whenever such culturally sanctioned boundaries are breached,
Kent H Redford
Full Text Available So far, conservation scientists have paid little attention to synthetic biology; this is unfortunate as the technology is likely to transform the operating space within which conservation functions, and therefore the prospects for maintaining biodiversity into the future.
Belt, van den H.
Although synthetic biology (SB) conjures up a future cornucopia of new medicines and other health applications, the antimalarial drug artemisinin is still one of the few concrete illustrations to substantiate this promise. As SB’s favorite poster child, it is atypical because it exemplifies a rather
Full Text Available This study explores the image of synthetic biology and nanotechnology in comparison to agricultural biotechnology and communication technology by examining spontaneous associations with, and deliberate evaluations of, these technologies by university students. Data were collected through a self-completion online questionnaire by students from two universities in Switzerland. The survey aimed to capture implicit associations, explicit harm-benefit evaluations and views on regulation. The data suggest overall positive associations with emerging technologies. While positive associations were most pronounced for nanotechnology, agricultural biotechnology was attributed with the least favorable associations. In contrast to its positive result in the association task, respondents attributed a high harm potential for nanotechnology. Associations attributed to synthetic biology were demonstrated to be more positive than for agricultural biotechnology, however, not as favorable as for nanotechnology. Contrary to the evaluations of nanotechnology, the benefit-examples of synthetic biology were evaluated particularly positively. Accordingly, the investigated technologies enjoy different esteem, with synthetic biology and nanotechnology both showing a more “exciting” image. Even though, the image of nanotechnology was demonstrated to be more pronounced it was also more heterogeneous across tasks while agricultural biotechnology remains contested. For all technologies, the predominant spontaneous concerns pertain to risks rather than an immoral nature inherent to these technologies. Our data suggest that harm-benefit analyses reveal only one aspect of the attitude toward emerging technologies. Survey questions addressing spontaneous associations with these technologies are a valuable addition for our picture of the image of emerging technologies.
Trump, Benjamin D
Synthetic biology is an emerging technology with potential benefits to various fields, yet also contains potential risks to human and environmental health. The field remains in an emerging state with limited quantitative guidance and a small but growing population of international researchers that conduct work within this field. Given the uncertain nature of this technology, an adaptive and anticipatory governance framework may be necessary to balance the potential benefits that may accrue from the technology's continued research alongside a desire to reduce or eliminate potential risks that may arise. However, such developments must account for the unique political and institutional factors that form a government's risk culture - something that can facilitate or impede the development of adaptive synthetic biology governance moving forward. The TAPIC framework helps illustrate those factors that are essential to develop good governance for emerging technologies like synthetic biology. Specifically, an application of TAPIC to synthetic biology governance indicates that the factors of accountability, participation, and integrity must be bolstered to improve technology governance in governments like with the United States, European Union, and Singapore. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Baumgart, Meike; Unthan, Simon; Kloß, Ramona; Radek, Andreas; Polen, Tino; Tenhaef, Niklas; Müller, Moritz Fabian; Küberl, Andreas; Siebert, Daniel; Brühl, Natalie; Marin, Kay; Hans, Stephan; Krämer, Reinhard; Bott, Michael; Kalinowski, Jörn; Wiechert, Wolfgang; Seibold, Gerd; Frunzke, Julia; Rückert, Christian; Wendisch, Volker F; Noack, Stephan
Targeted top-down strategies for genome reduction are considered to have a high potential for providing robust basic strains for synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology. Recently, we created a library of 26 genome-reduced strains of Corynebacterium glutamicum carrying broad deletions in single gene clusters and showing wild-type-like biological fitness. Here, we proceeded with combinatorial deletions of these irrelevant gene clusters in two parallel orders, and the resulting library of 28 strains was characterized under various environmental conditions. The final chassis strain C1* carries a genome reduction of 13.4% (412 deleted genes) and shows wild-type-like growth behavior in defined medium with d-glucose as carbon and energy source. Moreover, C1* proves to be robust against several stresses (including oxygen limitation) and shows long-term growth stability under defined and complex medium conditions. In addition to providing a novel prokaryotic chassis strain, our results comprise a large strain library and a revised genome annotation list, which will be valuable sources for future systemic studies of C. glutamicum.
Yang, Xue; Beason-Held, Lori; Resnick, Susan M.; Landman, Bennett A.
Mapping the quantitative relationship between structure and function in the human brain is an important and challenging problem. Numerous volumetric, surface, region of interest and voxelwise image processing techniques have been developed to statistically assess potential correlations between imaging and non-imaging metrics. Recently, biological parametric mapping has extended the widely popular statistical parametric approach to enable application of the general linear model to multiple image modalities (both for regressors and regressands) along with scalar valued observations. This approach offers great promise for direct, voxelwise assessment of structural and functional relationships with multiple imaging modalities. However, as presented, the biological parametric mapping approach is not robust to outliers and may lead to invalid inferences (e.g., artifactual low p-values) due to slight mis-registration or variation in anatomy between subjects. To enable widespread application of this approach, we introduce robust regression and robust inference in the neuroimaging context of application of the general linear model. Through simulation and empirical studies, we demonstrate that our robust approach reduces sensitivity to outliers without substantial degradation in power. The robust approach and associated software package provides a reliable way to quantitatively assess voxelwise correlations between structural and functional neuroimaging modalities.
Marris, Claire; Jefferson, Catherine; Lentzos, Filippa
Institutions need to ignore some knowledge in order to function. This is “uncomfortable knowledge” because it undermines the ability of those institutions to pursue their goals (Rayner, 2012). We identify three bodies of knowledge that are relevant to understandings of the dual use threat posed by synthetic biology but are excluded from related policy discussions. We demonstrate how these “unknown knowns” constitute uncomfortable knowledge because they disrupt the simplified worldview that underpins contemporary discourse on the potential misuse of synthetic biology by malign actors. We describe how these inconvenient truths have been systematically ignored and argue that this is because they are perceived as a threat by organisations involved in the promotion of synthetic biology as well as by those involved in managing biosecurity risks. This has led to a situation where concerns about the biosecurity threat posed by synthetic biology are not only exaggerated, but are, more importantly, misplaced. This, in turn, means that related policies are misdirected and unlikely to have much impact. We focus on the dynamics of discussions about synthetic biology and dual use to demonstrate how the same “knowns” that are denied or dismissed as “unknown knowns” in certain circumstances are sometimes mobilised as “known knowns” by the same category of actors in a different context, when this serves to sustain the goals of the individuals and institutions involved. Based on our own experience, we argue that negotiating the dynamics of uncomfortable knowledge is a difficult, but necessary, component of meaningful transdisciplinary collaborations. PMID:25484910
Kalluri, Udaya C; Yin, Hengfu; Yang, Xiaohan; Davison, Brian H
Fine-tuning plant cell wall properties to render plant biomass more amenable to biofuel conversion is a colossal challenge. A deep knowledge of the biosynthesis and regulation of plant cell wall and a high-precision genome engineering toolset are the two essential pillars of efforts to alter plant cell walls and reduce biomass recalcitrance. The past decade has seen a meteoric rise in use of transcriptomics and high-resolution imaging methods resulting in fresh insights into composition, structure, formation and deconstruction of plant cell walls. Subsequent gene manipulation approaches, however, commonly include ubiquitous mis-expression of a single candidate gene in a host that carries an intact copy of the native gene. The challenges posed by pleiotropic and unintended changes resulting from such an approach are moving the field towards synthetic biology approaches. Synthetic biology builds on a systems biology knowledge base and leverages high-precision tools for high-throughput assembly of multigene constructs and pathways, precision genome editing and site-specific gene stacking, silencing and/or removal. Here, we summarize the recent breakthroughs in biosynthesis and remodelling of major secondary cell wall components, assess the impediments in obtaining a systems-level understanding and explore the potential opportunities in leveraging synthetic biology approaches to reduce biomass recalcitrance. Published 2014. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Lu, Timothy K.
Since their discovery, bacteriophages have contributed enormously to our understanding of molecular biology as model systems. Furthermore, bacteriophages have provided many tools that have advanced the fields of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Here, we discuss bacteriophage-based technologies and their application to the study of infectious diseases. New strategies for engineering genomes have the potential to accelerate the design of novel phages as therapies, diagnostics, and tools. Though almost a century has elapsed since their discovery, bacteriophages continue to have a major impact on modern biological sciences, especially with the growth of multidrug-resistant bacteria and interest in the microbiome. PMID:24997401
Moore, Simon J; Lai, Hung-En; Kelwick, Richard J R; Chee, Soo Mei; Bell, David J; Polizzi, Karen Marie; Freemont, Paul S
Golden Gate cloning is a prominent DNA assembly tool in synthetic biology for the assembly of plasmid constructs often used in combinatorial pathway optimization, with a number of assembly kits developed specifically for yeast and plant-based expression. However, its use for synthetic biology in commonly used bacterial systems such as Escherichia coli has surprisingly been overlooked. Here, we introduce EcoFlex a simplified modular package of DNA parts for a variety of applications in E. coli, cell-free protein synthesis, protein purification and hierarchical assembly of transcription units based on the MoClo assembly standard. The kit features a library of constitutive promoters, T7 expression, RBS strength variants, synthetic terminators, protein purification tags and fluorescence proteins. We validate EcoFlex by assembling a 68-part containing (20 genes) plasmid (31 kb), characterize in vivo and in vitro library parts, and perform combinatorial pathway assembly, using pooled libraries of either fluorescent proteins or the biosynthetic genes for the antimicrobial pigment violacein as a proof-of-concept. To minimize pathway screening, we also introduce a secondary module design site to simplify MoClo pathway optimization. In summary, EcoFlex provides a standardized and multifunctional kit for a variety of applications in E. coli synthetic biology.
Full Text Available Biohydrogen production was studied from the vermicelli processing wastewater using synthetic and biological materials as immobilizing substrate employing a mixed culture in a batch reactor operated at the initial pH 6.0 and thermophilic condition (55 ± 1ºC. Maximum cumulative hydrogen production (1,210 mL H2/L wastewater was observed at 5% (v/v addition of ring-shaped synthetic material, which was the ring-shaped hydrophobic acrylic. Regarding 5% (v/v addition of synthetic and biological materials, the maximum cumulative hydrogen production using immobilizing synthetic material of ball-shaped hydrophobic polyethylene (HBPE (1,256.5 mL H2/L wastewater was a two-fold increase of cumulative hydrogen production when compared to its production using immobilizing biological material of rope-shaped hydrophilic ramie (609.8 mL H2/L wastewater. SEM observation of immobilized biofilm on a ball-shaped HBPE or a rope-shaped hydrophilic ramie was the rod shape and gathered into group.
Vogl, Thomas; Hartner, Franz S; Glieder, Anton
Biopharmaceuticals are an integral part of modern medicine and pharmacy. Both, the development and the biotechnological production of biopharmaceuticals are highly cost-intensive and require suitable expression systems. In this review we discuss established and emerging tools for reengineering the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris for biopharmaceutical production. Recent advancements of this industrial expression system through synthetic biology include synthetic promoters to avoid methanol induction and to fine-tune protein production. New platform strains and molecular cloning tools as well as in vivo glycoengineering to produce humanized glycoforms have made P. pastoris an important host for biopharmaceutical production. PMID:23522654
Rothschild, Lynn J.
All organisms live in a multi-dimensional physical and chemical niche space. Discoveries in the 20th century enormously expanded the range of what was considered "habitable." However, the current diversity of life on Earth begs the question of what terrestrial life - or indeed, another life form - would be capable of. With the needs of both modern laboratory science and the burgeoning field of biotechnology, as well as our deeply held desire to answer the question "are we alone in the universe?, we are exploiting the tools of synthetic biology to probe the question of whether we can create "synthetic extremophiles" or, as our lab has dubbed them, "Hell Cells."
Templar, Alexander; Woodhouse, Stefan; Keshavarz-Moore, Eli; Nesbeth, Darren N
Advances in synthetic genomics are now well underway in yeasts due to the low cost of synthetic DNA. These new capabilities also bring greater need for quantitating the presence, loss and rearrangement of loci within synthetic yeast genomes. Methods for achieving this will ideally; i) be robust to industrial settings, ii) adhere to a global standard and iii) be sufficiently rapid to enable at-line monitoring during cell growth. The methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris (P. pastoris) is increasingly used for industrial production of biotherapeutic proteins so we sought to answer the following questions for this particular yeast species. Is time-consuming DNA purification necessary to obtain accurate end-point polymerase chain reaction (e-pPCR) and quantitative PCR (qPCR) data? Can the novel linear regression of efficiency qPCR method (LRE qPCR), which has properties desirable in a synthetic biology standard, match the accuracy of conventional qPCR? Does cell cultivation scale influence PCR performance? To answer these questions we performed e-pPCR and qPCR in the presence and absence of cellular material disrupted by a mild 30s sonication procedure. The e-pPCR limit of detection (LOD) for a genomic target locus was 50pg (4.91×10(3) copies) of purified genomic DNA (gDNA) but the presence of cellular material reduced this sensitivity sixfold to 300pg gDNA (2.95×10(4) copies). LRE qPCR matched the accuracy of a conventional standard curve qPCR method. The presence of material from bioreactor cultivation of up to OD600=80 did not significantly compromise the accuracy of LRE qPCR. We conclude that a simple and rapid cell disruption step is sufficient to render P. pastoris samples of up to OD600=80 amenable to analysis using LRE qPCR which we propose as a synthetic biology standard. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Yao, Haimin; Gao, Huajian
Gecko and many insects have evolved specialized adhesive tissues with bottom-up designed (from nanoscale and up) hierarchical structures that allow them to maneuver on vertical walls and ceilings. The adhesion mechanisms of gecko must be robust enough to function on unknown rough surfaces and also easily releasable upon animal movement. How does nature design such macroscopic sized robust and releasable adhesion devices? How can an adhesion system designed for robust attachment simultaneously allow easy detachment? These questions have motivated the present investigation on mechanics of robust and releasable adhesion in biology. On the question of robust adhesion, we introduce a fractal gecko hairs model, which assumes self-similar fibrillar structures at multiple hierarchical levels mimicking gecko's spatula ultrastructure, to show that structural hierarchy plays a key role in robust adhesion: it allows the work of adhesion to be exponentially enhanced with each added level of hierarchy. We demonstrate that, barring fiber fracture, the fractal gecko hairs can be designed from nanoscale and up to achieve flaw tolerant adhesion at any length scales. However, consideration of crack-like flaws in the hairs themselves results in an upper size limit for flaw tolerant design. On the question of releasable adhesion, we hypothesize that the asymmetrically aligned seta hairs of gecko form a strongly anisotropic material with adhesion strength strongly varying with the direction of pulling. We use analytical solutions to show that a strongly anisotropic elastic solid indeed exhibits a strongly anisotropic adhesion strength when sticking on a rough surface. Furthermore, we perform finite element calculations to show that the adhesion strength of a strongly anisotropic attachment pad exhibits essentially two levels of adhesion strength depending on the direction of pulling, resulting in an orientation-controlled switch between attachment and detachment. These findings not only
Gao, Hong; Zhuo, Ying; Ashforth, Elizabeth; Zhang, Lixin
Synthetic biology aims to design and build new biological systems with desirable properties, providing the foundation for the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. The most prominent representation of synthetic biology has been used in microbial engineering by recombinant DNA technology. However, there are advantages of using a deleted host, and therefore an increasing number of biotechnology studies follow similar strategies to dissect cellular networks and construct genome-reduced microbes. This review will give an overview of the strategies used for constructing and engineering reduced-genome factories by synthetic biology to improve production of secondary metabolites.
Luque-Baena, R M; Urda, D; Gonzalo Claros, M; Franco, L; Jerez, J M
Genetic algorithms are widely used in the estimation of expression profiles from microarrays data. However, these techniques are unable to produce stable and robust solutions suitable to use in clinical and biomedical studies. This paper presents a novel two-stage evolutionary strategy for gene feature selection combining the genetic algorithm with biological information extracted from the KEGG database. A comparative study is carried out over public data from three different types of cancer (leukemia, lung cancer and prostate cancer). Even though the analyses only use features having KEGG information, the results demonstrate that this two-stage evolutionary strategy increased the consistency, robustness and accuracy of a blind discrimination among relapsed and healthy individuals. Therefore, this approach could facilitate the definition of gene signatures for the clinical prognosis and diagnostic of cancer diseases in a near future. Additionally, it could also be used for biological knowledge discovery about the studied disease.
Kim, Allen K; DeRose, Robert; Ueno, Tasuku; Lin, Benjamin; Komatsu, Toru; Nakamura, Hideki; Inoue, Takanari
Biological phenomena, such as cellular differentiation and phagocytosis, are fundamental processes that enable cells to fulfill important physiological roles in multicellular organisms. In the field of synthetic biology, the study of these behaviors relies on the use of a broad range of molecular tools that enable the real-time manipulation and measurement of key components in the underlying signaling pathways. This Review will focus on a subset of synthetic biology tools known as bottom-up techniques, which use technologies such as optogenetics and chemically induced dimerization to reconstitute cellular behavior in cells. These techniques have been crucial not only in revealing causal relationships within signaling networks but also in identifying the minimal signaling components that are necessary for a given cellular function. We discuss studies that used these systems in a broad range of cellular and molecular phenomena, including the time-dependent modulation of protein activity in cellular proliferation and differentiation, the reconstitution of phagocytosis, the reconstitution of chemotaxis, and the regulation of actin reorganization. Finally, we discuss the potential contribution of synthetic biology to medicine.
Bashor, Caleb J; Horwitz, Andrew A; Peisajovich, Sergio G; Lim, Wendell A
The living cell is an incredibly complex entity, and the goal of predictively and quantitatively understanding its function is one of the next great challenges in biology. Much of what we know about the cell concerns its constituent parts, but to a great extent we have yet to decode how these parts are organized to yield complex physiological function. Classically, we have learned about the organization of cellular networks by disrupting them through genetic or chemical means. The emerging discipline of synthetic biology offers an additional, powerful approach to study systems. By rearranging the parts that comprise existing networks, we can gain valuable insight into the hierarchical logic of the networks and identify the modular building blocks that evolution uses to generate innovative function. In addition, by building minimal toy networks, one can systematically explore the relationship between network structure and function. Here, we outline recent work that uses synthetic biology approaches to investigate the organization and function of cellular networks, and describe a vision for a synthetic biology toolkit that could be used to interrogate the design principles of diverse systems.
Madsen, Curtis; McLaughlin, James Alastair; Mısırlı, Göksel; Pocock, Matthew; Flanagan, Keith; Hallinan, Jennifer; Wipat, Anil
Recently, synthetic biologists have developed the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL), a data exchange standard for descriptions of genetic parts, devices, modules, and systems. The goals of this standard are to allow scientists to exchange designs of biological parts and systems, to facilitate the storage of genetic designs in repositories, and to facilitate the description of genetic designs in publications. In order to achieve these goals, the development of an infrastructure to store, retrieve, and exchange SBOL data is necessary. To address this problem, we have developed the SBOL Stack, a Resource Description Framework (RDF) database specifically designed for the storage, integration, and publication of SBOL data. This database allows users to define a library of synthetic parts and designs as a service, to share SBOL data with collaborators, and to store designs of biological systems locally. The database also allows external data sources to be integrated by mapping them to the SBOL data model. The SBOL Stack includes two Web interfaces: the SBOL Stack API and SynBioHub. While the former is designed for developers, the latter allows users to upload new SBOL biological designs, download SBOL documents, search by keyword, and visualize SBOL data. Since the SBOL Stack is based on semantic Web technology, the inherent distributed querying functionality of RDF databases can be used to allow different SBOL stack databases to be queried simultaneously, and therefore, data can be shared between different institutes, centers, or other users.
Anna Maria Manferdini
Full Text Available Traditionally materials have been associated with a series of physical properties that can be used as inputs to production and manufacturing. Recently we witnessed an interest in materials considered not only as ‘true matter’, but also as new breeds where geometry, texture, tooling and finish are able to provoke new sensations when they are applied to a substance. These artificial materials can be described as synthetic because they are the outcome of various qualities that are not necessarily true to the original matter, but they are the combination of two or more parts, whether by design or by natural processes. The aim of this paper is to investigate the potential of architectural surfaces to produce effects through the invention of new breeds of artificial matter, using micro-scale details derived from Nature as an inspiration.
Dymond, Jessica S; Scheifele, Lisa Z; Richardson, Sarah; Lee, Pablo; Chandrasegaran, Srinivasan; Bader, Joel S; Boeke, Jef D
A major challenge in undergraduate life science curricula is the continual evaluation and development of courses that reflect the constantly shifting face of contemporary biological research. Synthetic biology offers an excellent framework within which students may participate in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and is therefore an attractive addition to the undergraduate biology curriculum. This new discipline offers the promise of a deeper understanding of gene function, gene order, and chromosome structure through the de novo synthesis of genetic information, much as synthetic approaches informed organic chemistry. While considerable progress has been achieved in the synthesis of entire viral and prokaryotic genomes, fabrication of eukaryotic genomes requires synthesis on a scale that is orders of magnitude higher. These high-throughput but labor-intensive projects serve as an ideal way to introduce undergraduates to hands-on synthetic biology research. We are pursuing synthesis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosomes in an undergraduate laboratory setting, the Build-a-Genome course, thereby exposing students to the engineering of biology on a genomewide scale while focusing on a limited region of the genome. A synthetic chromosome III sequence was designed, ordered from commercial suppliers in the form of oligonucleotides, and subsequently assembled by students into approximately 750-bp fragments. Once trained in assembly of such DNA "building blocks" by PCR, the students accomplish high-yield gene synthesis, becoming not only technically proficient but also constructively critical and capable of adapting their protocols as independent researchers. Regular "lab meeting" sessions help prepare them for future roles in laboratory science.
DePaoli, Henrique C; Borland, Anne M; Tuskan, Gerald A; Cushman, John C; Yang, Xiaohan
To meet future food and energy security needs, which are amplified by increasing population growth and reduced natural resource availability, metabolic engineering efforts have moved from manipulating single genes/proteins to introducing multiple genes and novel pathways to improve photosynthetic efficiency in a more comprehensive manner. Biochemical carbon-concentrating mechanisms such as crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), which improves photosynthetic, water-use, and possibly nutrient-use efficiency, represent a strategic target for synthetic biology to engineer more productive C3 crops for a warmer and drier world. One key challenge for introducing multigene traits like CAM onto a background of C3 photosynthesis is to gain a better understanding of the dynamic spatial and temporal regulatory events that underpin photosynthetic metabolism. With the aid of systems and computational biology, vast amounts of experimental data encompassing transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics can be related in a network to create dynamic models. Such models can undergo simulations to discover key regulatory elements in metabolism and suggest strategic substitution or augmentation by synthetic components to improve photosynthetic performance and water-use efficiency in C3 crops. Another key challenge in the application of synthetic biology to photosynthesis research is to develop efficient systems for multigene assembly and stacking. Here, we review recent progress in computational modelling as applied to plant photosynthesis, with attention to the requirements for CAM, and recent advances in synthetic biology tool development. Lastly, we discuss possible options for multigene pathway construction in plants with an emphasis on CAM-into-C3 engineering. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anderson, Ryan C; Fox, Christopher B; Dutill, Timothy S; Shaverdian, Narek; Evers, Tara L; Poshusta, Garrett R; Chesko, James; Coler, Rhea N; Friede, Martin; Reed, Steven G; Vedvick, Thomas S
Immunostimulatory molecules such as monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), a Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) agonist, can be formulated to enhance vaccine adjuvant effects and to promote a Th1-type immune response. This study compares the in vitro and in vivo potency of aqueous and emulsion formulations containing a synthetic MPL analogue. In addition, formulation structure and association of the synthetic TLR-4 agonist and antigen with the formulation are characterized using dynamic light scattering, zeta potential measurement, HPLC, and SDS-PAGE. The biological and biophysical effects of formulating the agonist with different oil and surfactant components from animal, plant, and synthetic sources are examined. These findings have important implications for the formulation of TLR4 agonists as well as the influence of formulation component substitution on adjuvant activity. The results indicate that (1) the agonist is associated with the oil droplets in emulsion formulations, (2) the emulsion formulations containing synthetic TLR4 agonist induce higher IgG2a/IgG1 antibody ratios than aqueous formulations or an emulsion formulation without the agonist, and (3) appropriate plant-derived components can be substituted for animal-derived components in oil-in-water emulsions without loss of biological activity.
Patron, Nicola J; Orzaez, Diego; Marillonnet, Sylvestre; Warzecha, Heribert; Matthewman, Colette; Youles, Mark; Raitskin, Oleg; Leveau, Aymeric; Farré, Gemma; Rogers, Christian; Smith, Alison; Hibberd, Julian; Webb, Alex A R; Locke, James; Schornack, Sebastian; Ajioka, Jim; Baulcombe, David C; Zipfel, Cyril; Kamoun, Sophien; Jones, Jonathan D G; Kuhn, Hannah; Robatzek, Silke; Van Esse, H Peter; Sanders, Dale; Oldroyd, Giles; Martin, Cathie; Field, Rob; O'Connor, Sarah; Fox, Samantha; Wulff, Brande; Miller, Ben; Breakspear, Andy; Radhakrishnan, Guru; Delaux, Pierre-Marc; Loqué, Dominique; Granell, Antonio; Tissier, Alain; Shih, Patrick; Brutnell, Thomas P; Quick, W Paul; Rischer, Heiko; Fraser, Paul D; Aharoni, Asaph; Raines, Christine; South, Paul F; Ané, Jean-Michel; Hamberger, Björn R; Langdale, Jane; Stougaard, Jens; Bouwmeester, Harro; Udvardi, Michael; Murray, James A H; Ntoukakis, Vardis; Schäfer, Patrick; Denby, Katherine; Edwards, Keith J; Osbourn, Anne; Haseloff, Jim
Inventors in the field of mechanical and electronic engineering can access multitudes of components and, thanks to standardization, parts from different manufacturers can be used in combination with each other. The introduction of BioBrick standards for the assembly of characterized DNA sequences was a landmark in microbial engineering, shaping the field of synthetic biology. Here, we describe a standard for Type IIS restriction endonuclease-mediated assembly, defining a common syntax of 12 fusion sites to enable the facile assembly of eukaryotic transcriptional units. This standard has been developed and agreed by representatives and leaders of the international plant science and synthetic biology communities, including inventors, developers and adopters of Type IIS cloning methods. Our vision is of an extensive catalogue of standardized, characterized DNA parts that will accelerate plant bioengineering. © 2015 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2015 New Phytologist Trust.
Colin, Verónica Leticia; Rodríguez, Analía; Cristóbal, Héctor Antonio
Insecurity in the supply of fossil fuels, volatile fuel prices, and major concerns regarding climate change have sparked renewed interest in the production of fuels from renewable resources. Because of this, the use of biodiesel has grown dramatically during the last few years and is expected to increase even further in the future. Biodiesel production through the use of microbial systems has marked a turning point in the field of biofuels since it is emerging as an attractive alternative to conventional technology. Recent progress in synthetic biology has accelerated the ability to analyze, construct, and/or redesign microbial metabolic pathways with unprecedented precision, in order to permit biofuel production that is amenable to industrial applications. The review presented here focuses specifically on the role of synthetic biology in the design of microbial cell factories for efficient production of biodiesel. PMID:22028591
Ancillotti, Mirko; Holmberg, Niklas; Lindfelt, Mikael; Eriksson, Stefan
Synthetic biology will probably have a high impact on a variety of fields, such as healthcare, environment, biofuels, agriculture, and so on. A driving theme in European research policy is the importance of maintaining public legitimacy and support. Media can influence public attitudes and are therefore an important object of study. Through qualitative content analysis, this study investigates the press coverage of synthetic biology in the major Nordic countries between 2009 and 2014. The press coverage was found to be event-driven and there were striking similarities between countries when it comes to framing, language use, and treated themes. Reporters showed a marked dependence on their sources, mainly scientists and stakeholders, who thus drives the media agenda. The media portrayal was very positive, with an optimistic look at future benefits and very little discussion of possible risks.
Dwivedi, Jaya; Kaur, Navjeet; Kishore, D; Kumari, Simpal; Sharma, Swapnil
The three heteroatoms containing five membered heterocycles such as thiadiazoles have been extensively studied due to their important pharmacological activities. The thiadiazole nucleus is an important class of compounds for new drug development. The chemical and biological behavior and synthesis of thiadiazole derivatives have gained much importance in last few decades. This review article provides up to date information about exploration of new methods, developments, synthetic strategies, and their diverse pharmaceutical activities.
Flengsrud, Ragnar; Antonsen, Simen Gjelseth
Pentapeptides have been shown to bind the synthetic heparin fondaparinux (Arixtra) as well the biological heparins dalteparin (Fragmin) and salmon heparin. In contrast to heparin binding consensus sequences, the pentapeptides are acidic or neutral, with no arginine or histidine residue. The peptides showed an effect on in vitro heparin anti-factor X activity with a reduction of fondaparinux activity by 65-95%. Heparin binding was further studied by using peptide solid phase chromatography and NMR analysis.
Irkha, N.I.; Priiman, R.A.
A review of biological transformations of anionic synthetic detergents in natural waters, based on data from studies of detergent transformation under natural and model conditions, covers the biodegradation of alkyl sulfates; colorimetric determination of such detergents; carbon dioxide evolution methods; intermediate products of decomposition; monitoring of biodegradation by luminous fluxes; the role of microorganisms in biodegradation; toxicity; and the rate of self-purification of natural water bodies from such detergents.
Agapakis, Christina M; Silver, Pamela A
Electron transfer is central to a wide range of essential metabolic pathways, from photosynthesis to fermentation. The evolutionary diversity and conservation of proteins that transfer electrons makes these pathways a valuable platform for engineered metabolic circuits in synthetic biology. Rational engineering of electron transfer pathways containing hydrogenases has the potential to lead to industrial scale production of hydrogen as an alternative source of clean fuel and experimental assay...
This article analyzes a specter that has haunted bioethics almost since its inception, namely the specter of the misuse of biotechnology by maleficent agents bent on mass destruction, or the complete eradication of human kind and life as we know it. The article provides a general account of why bioethicists cry "catastrophic bioterrorism potential" when new biotechnologies emerge, and an analysis of the arguments that flow from the prediction, especially in relation to synthetic biology.
Full Text Available Bionics (the imitation or abstraction of the “inventions of nature and, to an even greater extent, synthetic biology, will be as relevant to engineering development and industry as the silicon chip was over the last 50 years. Chemical industries already use so-called “white biotechnology” for new processes, new raw materials, and more sustainable use of resources. Synthetic biology is also used for the development of second-generation biofuels and for harvesting the sun's energy with the help of tailor-made microorganisms or biometrically designed catalysts. The market potential for bionics in medicine, engineering processes, and DNA storage is huge. “Moonshot” projects are already aggressively focusing on diseases and new materials, and a US-led competition is currently underway with the aim of creating a thousand new molecules. This article describes a timeline that starts with current projects and then moves on to code engineering projects and their implications, artificial DNA, signaling molecules, and biological circuitry. Beyond these projects, one of the next frontiers in bionics is the design of synthetic metabolisms that include artificial food chains and foods, and the bioengineering of raw materials; all of which will lead to new insights into biological principles. Bioengineering will be an innovation motor just as digitalization is today. This article discusses pertinent examples of bioengineering, particularly the use of alternative carbon-based biofuels and the techniques and perils of cell modification. Big data, analytics, and massive storage are important factors in this next frontier. Although synthetic biology will be as pervasive and transformative in the next 50 years as digitization and the Internet are today, its applications and impacts are still in nascent stages. This article provides a general taxonomy in which the development of bioengineering is classified in five stages (DNA analysis, bio
Currin, Andrew; Jervis, Adrian J.; Rattray, Nicholas J. W.; Swainston, Neil; Yan, Cunyu; Breitling, Rainer
Covering: 2000 to 2016 Progress in synthetic biology is enabled by powerful bioinformatics tools allowing the integration of the design, build and test stages of the biological engineering cycle. In this review we illustrate how this integration can be achieved, with a particular focus on natural products discovery and production. Bioinformatics tools for the DESIGN and BUILD stages include tools for the selection, synthesis, assembly and optimization of parts (enzymes and regulatory elements), devices (pathways) and systems (chassis). TEST tools include those for screening, identification and quantification of metabolites for rapid prototyping. The main advantages and limitations of these tools as well as their interoperability capabilities are highlighted. PMID:27185383
Wang, Chonglong; Kim, Jung-Hun; Kim, Seon-Won
Carotenoids are a class of diverse pigments with important biological roles such as light capture and antioxidative activities. Many novel carotenoids have been isolated from marine organisms to date and have shown various utilizations as nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. In this review, we summarize the pathways and enzymes of carotenoid synthesis and discuss various modifications of marine carotenoids. The advances in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology for carotenoid production are also reviewed, in hopes that this review will promote the exploration of marine carotenoid for their utilizations.
Wang, Liqiang; Qian, Kun; Huang, Yan; Jin, Nana; Lai, Hongyan; Zhang, Ting; Li, Chunhua; Zhang, Chunrui; Bi, Xiaoman; Wu, Deng; Wang, Changliang; Wu, Hao; Tan, Puwen; Lu, Jianping; Chen, Liqun; Li, Kongning; Li, Xia; Wang, Dong
Synthetic biologists have developed DNA/molecular modules that perform genetic logic operations in living cells to track key moments in a cell's life or change the fate of a cell. Increasing evidence has also revealed that diverse genetic logic gates capable of generating a Boolean function play critically important roles in synthetic biology. Basic genetic logic gates have been designed to combine biological science with digital logic. SynBioLGDB (http://bioinformatics.ac.cn/synbiolgdb/) aims to provide the synthetic biology community with a useful resource for efficient browsing and visualization of genetic logic gates. The current version of SynBioLGDB documents more than 189 genetic logic gates with experimental evidence involving 80 AND gates and 16 NOR gates, etc. in three species (Human, Escherichia coli and Bacillus clausii). SynBioLGDB provides a user-friendly interface through which conveniently to query and browse detailed information about these genetic logic gates. SynBioLGDB will enable more comprehensive understanding of the connection of genetic logic gates to execute complex cellular functions in living cells.
Lee, Ja-Bin; An, Gwang-Guk; Yang, Seung-Mo; Park, Hae-Soo; Chung, Woo-Seong; Hong, Jin-Pyo
Perpendicularly magnetized tunnel junctions (p-MTJs) that contain synthetic antiferromagnetic (SAF) frames show promise as reliable building blocks to meet the demands of perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA)-based spintronic devices. In particular, Co/Pd multilayer-based SAFs have been widely employed due to their outstanding PMA features. However, the widespread utilization of Co/Pd multilayer SAFs coupled with an adjacent CoFeB reference layer (RL) is still a challenge due to the structural discontinuity or intermixing that occurs during high temperature annealing. Thus, we address the thermally robust characteristics of Co/Pd multilayer SAFs by controlling a W layer as a potential buffer or capping layer. The W-capped Co/Pd multilayer SAF, which acts as a pinning layer, exhibited a wide-range plateau with sharp spin-flip and near-zero remanence at the zero field. Structural analysis of the W-capped multilayer SAF exhibited single-crystal-like c-axis oriented crystalline features after annealing at 400 °C, thereby demonstrating the applicability of these frames. In addition, when the W layer serving as a buffer layer in the Co/Pd multilayer SAF was coupled with a conventional CoFeB RL, higher annealing stability up to 425 °C and prominent antiferromagnetic coupling behavior were obtained.
Natural products are often attractive and challenging targets for synthetic chemists, and many have interesting biological activities. However, synthetic chemists need to be more than simply suppliers of compounds to biologists. Therefore, we have been seeking ways to actively apply organic synthetic methods to chemical biology studies of natural products and their activities. In this personal review, I would like to introduce our work on the development of new biologically active compounds inspired by, or extracted from, the structures of natural products, focusing on enhancement of functional activity and specificity and overcoming various drawbacks of the parent natural products.
Takano, Eriko; Bovenberg, Roel A L; Breitling, Rainer
Synthetic Biology is in a critical phase of its development: it has finally reached the point where it can move from proof-of-principle studies to real-world applications. Secondary metabolite biosynthesis, especially the discovery and production of antibiotics, is a particularly relevant target area for such applications of synthetic biology. The first international conference to explore this subject was held in Spain in October 2011. In four sessions on General Synthetic Biology, Filamentous Fungal Systems, Actinomyces Systems, and Tools and Host Structures, scientists presented the most recent technological and scientific advances, and a final-day Forward Look Plenary Discussion identified future trends in the field.
Augusto, Carlos; Gutiérrez, Conde
Synthetic biology is a change of paradigm, i.e. from the exploitation of natural and genetic resources to lab production of biological entities. This transitional shift represents a great challenge for developing countries, particularly those which host biodiversity, and users of genetic resources, since the latter might not be longer required to access to actual genetic resources (tangible genetic resources) but rather genetic resources' information (intangible genetic resources) in order to replicate those resources in labs. This could mean that users of genetic resource would not have to comply with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its complementary treaty, the Nagoya Protocol, known also as the Access and Benefit Sharing regime (ABS). Both international instrument demands that States create legal mechanisms to secure access and benefit sharing, i.e., users of genetic resources are required to obtain prior informed consent (PIC) from host countries of biodiversity and reach mutual agreed terms (MATs), in which users and countries agree how to share the benefits arise from the utilization of genetic resources. The ABS regime is particularly relevant since its implementation at national and regional level has created tensions between users of genetic resources and developing countries. This situation could lead to users removing interest in the exploitation of genetic resources, subsequently, meaning that their focus would move towards technologies that rely less on tangible genetic resources, including synthetic biology. This papers aim to discuss the scope of the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol in the light of synthetic biology and the implications for developing countries.
Beach, Dale L; Alvarez, Consuelo J
Synthetic biology offers an ideal opportunity to promote undergraduate laboratory courses with research-style projects, immersing students in an inquiry-based program that enhances the experience of the scientific process. We designed a semester-long, project-based laboratory curriculum using synthetic biology principles to develop a novel sensory device. Students develop subject matter knowledge of molecular genetics and practical skills relevant to molecular biology, recombinant DNA techniques, and information literacy. During the spring semesters of 2014 and 2015, the Synthetic Biology Laboratory Project was delivered to sophomore genetics courses. Using a cloning strategy based on standardized BioBrick genetic "parts," students construct a "reporter plasmid" expressing a reporter gene (GFP) controlled by a hybrid promoter regulated by the lac-repressor protein (lacI). In combination with a "sensor plasmid," the production of the reporter phenotype is inhibited in the presence of a target environmental agent, arabinose. When arabinose is absent, constitutive GFP expression makes cells glow green. But the presence of arabinose activates a second promoter (pBAD) to produce a lac-repressor protein that will inhibit GFP production. Student learning was assessed relative to five learning objectives, using a student survey administered at the beginning (pre-survey) and end (post-survey) of the course, and an additional 15 open-ended questions from five graded Progress Report assignments collected throughout the course. Students demonstrated significant learning gains (p Biology Laboratory Project enhanced their understanding of molecular genetics. The laboratory project is highly adaptable for both introductory and advanced courses.
Evans, Nicholas G; Selgelid, Michael J
In this article, we raise ethical concerns about the potential misuse of open-source biology (OSB): biological research and development that progresses through an organisational model of radical openness, deskilling, and innovation. We compare this organisational structure to that of the open-source software model, and detail salient ethical implications of this model. We demonstrate that OSB, in virtue of its commitment to openness, may be resistant to governance attempts.
Full Text Available The increasing fossil fuel scarcity has led to an urgent need to develop alternative fuels. Currently microorganisms have been extensively used for the production of first-generation biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass. Yeast is the efficient producer of bioethanol among all existing biofuels option. Tools of synthetic biology have revolutionized the field of microbial cell factories especially in the case of ethanol and fatty acid production. Most of the synthetic biology tools have been developed for the industrial workhorse Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The non-conventional yeast systems have several beneficial traits like ethanol tolerance, thermotolerance, inhibitor tolerance, genetic diversity, etc., and synthetic biology have the power to expand these traits. Currently, synthetic biology is slowly widening to the non-conventional yeasts like Hansenula polymorpha, Kluyveromyces lactis, Pichia pastoris, and Yarrowia lipolytica. Herein, we review the basic synthetic biology tools that can apply to non-conventional yeasts. Furthermore, we discuss the recent advances employed to develop efficient biofuel-producing non-conventional yeast strains by metabolic engineering and synthetic biology with recent examples. Looking forward, future synthetic engineering tools’ development and application should focus on unexplored non-conventional yeast species.
林章凛; 张艳; 王胥; 刘鹏
合成生物学是以工程化设计思路，构建标准化的元器件和模块，改造已存在的天然系统或者从头合成全新的人工生命体系，实现在化学品合成（包括材料、能源和天然化合物）、医学、农业、环境等领域的应用。人们利用基本的生物学元件设计和构建了基因开关、振荡器、放大器、逻辑门、计数器等合成器件，实现对生命系统的重新编程并执行特殊功能。模块化处理生物的代谢途径，并在底盘细胞上进行组装和优化，可以实现大宗化学品和精细化学品的合成。目前人们已经在丁醇、异丁醇、青蒿素和紫杉醇等化合物的生物合成上取得了重要进展。近年来还发展了多种基因组编辑和组装技术，可精确地对基因组进行编辑，人们还成功地合成了噬菌体基因组、支原体基因组和酵母基因组。在未来的50～100年内，合成生物学将对人类的医疗、化学品制造（含药品）、军事产生渐进性的、渗透性的但颠覆性的意义。%Synthetic biology is the engineering design and construction of standardized parts, devices and modules to modify the natural life systems or thede novo synthesis of new life systems. Synthetic biology has been widely applied to the fields of chemical synthesis (including materials, biofuels and natural compounds), medical industry, agriculture and environmental protection. Biological parts are used to construct synthetic modules such as toggle switch, synthetic oscillator, genetic amplifier, biologic gates and cellular counter. These synthetic modules reprogram life systems to perform specific functions. Modularized metabolic pathways are optimized in the cellular chassis to realize the biological production of bulk and fine chemicals, such as butanol, isobutanol, artemisinin, and taxol. In recent years, researchers have also developed several genome-editing and DNA assembly techniques, making it possible
Vecchioni, Simon; Toomey, Emily; Capece, Mark C.; Rothschild, Lynn; Wind, Shalom
DNA is an ideal template for a biological nanowire-it has a linear structure several atoms thick; it possesses addressable nucleobase geometry that can be precisely defined; and it is massively scalable into branched networks. Until now, the drawback of DNA as a conducting nanowire been, simply put, its low conductance. To address this deficiency, we extensively characterize a chemical variant of canonical DNA that exploits the affinity of natural cytosine bases for silver ions. We successfully construct chains of single silver ions inside double-stranded DNA, confirm the basic dC-Ag+-dC bond geometry and kinetics, and show length-tunability dependent on mismatch distribution, ion availability and enzyme activity. An analysis of the absorbance spectra of natural DNA and silver-binding, poly-cytosine DNA demonstrates the heightened thermostability of the ion chain and its resistance to aqueous stresses such as precipitation, dialysis and forced reduction. These chemically critical traits lend themselves to an increase in electrical conductivity of over an order of magnitude for 11-base silver-paired duplexes over natural strands when assayed by STM break junction. We further construct and implement a genetic pathway in the E. coli bacterium for the biosynthesis of highly ionizable DNA sequences. Toward future circuits, we construct a model of transcription network architectures to determine the most efficient and robust connectivity for cell-based fabrication, and we perform sequence optimization with a genetic algorithm to identify oligonucleotides robust to changes in the base-pairing energy landscape. We propose that this system will serve as a synthetic biological fabrication platform for more complex DNA nanotechnology and nanoelectronics with applications to deep space and low resource environments.
Chakraborty, Saikat; Mehtab, Shabana; Krishnan, Yamuna
CONSPECTUS: The impact of nucleic acid nanotechnology in terms of transforming motifs from biology in synthetic and translational ways is widely appreciated. But it is also emerging that the thinking and vision behind nucleic acids as construction material has broader implications, not just in nanotechnology or even synthetic biology, but can feed back into our understanding of biology itself. Physicists have treated nucleic acids as polymers and connected physical principles to biology by abstracting out the molecular interactions. In contrast, biologists delineate molecular players and pathways related to nucleic acids and how they may be networked. But in vitro nucleic acid nanotechnology has provided a valuable framework for nucleic acids by connecting its biomolecular interactions with its materials properties and thereby superarchitecture ultramanipulation that on multiple occasions has pre-empted the elucidation of how living cells themselves are exploiting these same structural concepts. This Account seeks to showcase the larger implications of certain architectural principles that have arisen from the field of structural DNA/RNA nanotechnology in biology. Here we draw connections between these principles and particular molecular phenomena within living systems that have fed in to our understanding of how the cell uses nucleic acids as construction material to achieve different functions. We illustrate this by considering a few exciting and emerging examples in biology in the context of both switchable systems and scaffolding type systems. Due to the scope of this Account, we will focus our discussion on examples of the RNA scaffold as summarized. In the context of switchable RNA architectures, the synthetic demonstration of small molecules blocking RNA translation preceded the discovery of riboswitches. In another example, it was after the description of aptazymes that the first allosteric ribozyme, glmS, was discovered. In the context of RNA architectures
Full Text Available Abstract Background Systems biology allows the analysis of biological systems behavior under different conditions through in silico experimentation. The possibility of perturbing biological systems in different manners calls for the design of perturbations to achieve particular goals. Examples would include, the design of a chemical stimulation to maximize the amplitude of a given cellular signal or to achieve a desired pattern in pattern formation systems, etc. Such design problems can be mathematically formulated as dynamic optimization problems which are particularly challenging when the system is described by partial differential equations. This work addresses the numerical solution of such dynamic optimization problems for spatially distributed biological systems. The usual nonlinear and large scale nature of the mathematical models related to this class of systems and the presence of constraints on the optimization problems, impose a number of difficulties, such as the presence of suboptimal solutions, which call for robust and efficient numerical techniques. Results Here, the use of a control vector parameterization approach combined with efficient and robust hybrid global optimization methods and a reduced order model methodology is proposed. The capabilities of this strategy are illustrated considering the solution of a two challenging problems: bacterial chemotaxis and the FitzHugh-Nagumo model. Conclusions In the process of chemotaxis the objective was to efficiently compute the time-varying optimal concentration of chemotractant in one of the spatial boundaries in order to achieve predefined cell distribution profiles. Results are in agreement with those previously published in the literature. The FitzHugh-Nagumo problem is also efficiently solved and it illustrates very well how dynamic optimization may be used to force a system to evolve from an undesired to a desired pattern with a reduced number of actuators. The presented
Full Text Available Abstract The exploitation of nature's machinery at length scales below the dimensions of a cell is an exciting challenge for biologists, chemists and physicists, while advances in our understanding of these biological motifs are now providing an opportunity to develop real single molecule devices for technological applications. Single molecule studies are already well advanced and biological molecular motors are being used to guide the design of nano-scale machines. However, controlling the specific functions of these devices in biological systems under changing conditions is difficult. In this review we describe the principles underlying the development of a molecular motor with numerous potential applications in nanotechnology and the use of specific synthetic polymers as prototypic molecular switches for control of the motor function. The molecular motor is a derivative of a TypeI Restriction-Modification (R-M enzyme and the synthetic polymer is drawn from the class of materials that exhibit a temperature-dependent phase transition. The potential exploitation of single molecules as functional devices has been heralded as the dawn of new era in biotechnology and medicine. It is not surprising, therefore, that the efforts of numerous multidisciplinary teams 12. have been focused in attempts to develop these systems. as machines capable of functioning at the low sub-micron and nanometre length-scales 3. However, one of the obstacles for the practical application of single molecule devices is the lack of functional control methods in biological media, under changing conditions. In this review we describe the conceptual basis for a molecular motor (a derivative of a TypeI Restriction-Modification enzyme with numerous potential applications in nanotechnology and the use of specific synthetic polymers as prototypic molecular switches for controlling the motor function 4.
Newson, Ainsley J
Synthetic biology (SynBio) is an emerging scientific field which has quickly established momentum and visibility. Although no single definition of SynBio prevails, the field broadly encompasses the application of engineering principles to biology, redesigning biological materials and using them as new substrates to create products and entities not otherwise found in nature. This article first reviews SynBio, highlighting the novel aspects of this technology. It then synthesizes ethical issues highlighted in the literature to date and makes some initial claims that research on the ethical aspects of SynBio should: avoid creating a new subtype of bioethics, concentrate on novel concepts and problems, and be situated within a context of cooperative interdisciplinary investigation.
McLaughlin, James Alastair; Pocock, Matthew; Mısırlı, Göksel; Madsen, Curtis; Wipat, Anil
Gunasekera, Sarath P; Mickel, Stuart J; Daeffler, Robert; Niederer, Daniel; Wright, Amy E; Linley, Patricia; Pitts, Tara
A series of seven synthetic discodermolide analogues 2-8, which are minor side products generated during the final stages in the synthesis of (+)-discodermolide (1), have been purified and evaluated for in vitro cytotoxicity against A549, P388, MFC-7, NCI/ADR, PANC-1, and VERO cell lines. These synthetic analogues showed a significant variation of cytotoxicity and confirmed the importance of the C-7 hydroxy through C-17 hydroxy molecular fragment for potency. Specifically, these analogues suggested the relevance of the C-11 hydroxyl group, the C-13 double bond, and the C-16 (S) stereochemistry for the potency of (+)-discodermolide. The preparation, purification, structure elucidation, and biological activity of these new analogues are described.
Bacterial modular type I polyketide synthases (PKSs) represent giant megasynthases that produce a vast number of complex polyketides, many of which are pharmaceutically relevant. This review highlights recent advances in elucidating the mechanism of bacterial type I PKSs and associated enzymes, and outlines the ramifications of this knowledge for synthetic biology approaches to expand structural diversity. New insights into biosynthetic codes and structures of thiotemplate systems pave the way to rational bioengineering strategies. Through advances in genome mining, DNA recombination technologies, and biochemical analyses, the toolbox of non-canonical polyketide-modifying enzymes has been greatly enlarged. In addition to various chain-branching and chain-fusing enzymes, an increasing set of scaffold modifying biocatalysts is now available for synthetically hard-to-emulate reactions. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Weissman, Kira J
Multienzyme polyketide synthases (PKSs) are molecular-scale assembly lines which construct complex natural products in bacteria. The underlying modular architecture of these gigantic catalysts inspired, from the moment of their discovery, attempts to modify them by genetic engineering to produce analogues of predictable structure. These efforts have resulted in hundreds of metabolites new to nature, as detailed in this review. However, in the face of many failures, the heady days of imagining the possibilities for a truly 'combinatorial biosynthesis' of polyketides have faded. It is now more appropriate to talk about 'PKS synthetic biology' with its more modest goals of delivering specific derivatives of known structure in combination with and as a complement to synthetic chemistry approaches. The reasons for these failures will be discussed in terms of our growing understanding of the three-dimensional architectures and mechanisms of these systems. Finally, some thoughts on the future of the field will be presented.
Full Text Available Abstract Background Recombinant protein production is a process of great industrial interest, with products that range from pharmaceuticals to biofuels. Since high level production of recombinant protein imposes significant stress in the host organism, several methods have been developed over the years to optimize protein production. So far, these trial-and-error techniques have proved laborious and sensitive to process parameters, while there has been no attempt to address the problem by applying Synthetic Biology principles and methods, such as integration of standardized parts in novel synthetic circuits. Results We present a novel self-regulatory protein production system that couples the control of recombinant protein production with a stress-induced, negative feedback mechanism. The synthetic circuit allows the down-regulation of recombinant protein expression through a stress-induced promoter. We used E. coli as the host organism, since it is widely used in recombinant processes. Our results show that the introduction of the self-regulatory circuit increases the soluble/insoluble ratio of recombinant protein at the expense of total protein yield. To further elucidate the dynamics of the system, we developed a computational model that is in agreement with the observed experimental data, and provides insight on the interplay between protein solubility and yield. Conclusion Our work introduces the idea of a self-regulatory circuit for recombinant protein products, and paves the way for processes with reduced external control or monitoring needs. It demonstrates that the library of standard biological parts serves as a valuable resource for initial synthetic blocks that needs to be further refined to be successfully applied in practical problems of biotechnological significance. Finally, the development of a predictive model in conjunction with experimental validation facilitates a better understanding of the underlying dynamics and can be
Spiers, Adam; Herrmann, Guido
This book investigates a biologically inspired method of robot arm control, developed with the objective of synthesising human-like motion dynamically, using nonlinear, robust and adaptive control techniques in practical robot systems. The control method caters to a rising interest in humanoid robots and the need for appropriate control schemes to match these systems. Unlike the classic kinematic schemes used in industrial manipulators, the dynamic approaches proposed here promote human-like motion with better exploitation of the robot’s physical structure. This also benefits human-robot interaction. The control schemes proposed in this book are inspired by a wealth of human-motion literature that indicates the drivers of motion to be dynamic, model-based and optimal. Such considerations lend themselves nicely to achievement via nonlinear control techniques without the necessity for extensive and complex biological models. The operational-space method of robot control forms the basis of many of the techniqu...
Schmidt, Jan Cornelius
Synthetic biology is regarded as one of the key technosciences of the future. The goal of this paper is to present some fundamental considerations to enable procedures of a technology assessment (TA) of synthetic biology. To accomplish such an early "upstream" assessment of a not yet fully developed technology, a special type of TA will be considered: Prospective TA (ProTA). At the center of ProTA are the analysis and the framing of "synthetic biology," including a characterization and assessment of the technological core. The thesis is that if there is any differentia specifica giving substance to the umbrella term "synthetic biology," it is the idea of harnessing self-organization for engineering purposes. To underline that we are likely experiencing an epochal break in the ontology of technoscientific systems, this new type of technology is called "late-modern technology." -I start this paper by analyzing the three most common visions of synthetic biology. Then I argue that one particular vision deserves more attention because it underlies the others: the vision of self-organization. I discuss the inherent limits of this new type of late-modern technology in the attempt to control and monitor possible risk issues. I refer to Hans Jonas' ethics and his early anticipation of the risks of a novel type of technology. I end by drawing conclusions for the approach of ProTA towards an early societal shaping of synthetic biology.
Wagner, Bridget K; Clemons, Paul A
Discovering small-molecule modulators for thousands of gene products requires multiple stages of biological testing, specificity evaluation, and chemical optimization. Many cellular profiling methods, including cellular sensitivity, gene expression, and cellular imaging, have emerged as methods to assess the functional consequences of biological perturbations. Cellular profiling methods applied to small-molecule science provide opportunities to use complex phenotypic information to prioritize and optimize small-molecule structures simultaneously against multiple biological endpoints. As throughput increases and cost decreases for such technologies, we see an emerging paradigm of using more information earlier in probe-discovery and drug-discovery efforts. Moreover, increasing access to public datasets makes possible the construction of 'virtual' profiles of small-molecule performance, even when multiplexed measurements were not performed or when multidimensional profiling was not the original intent. We review some key conceptual advances in small-molecule phenotypic profiling, emphasizing connections to other information, such as protein-binding measurements, genetic perturbations, and cell states. We argue that to maximally leverage these measurements in probe-discovery and drug-discovery requires a fundamental connection to synthetic chemistry, allowing the consequences of synthetic decisions to be described in terms of changes in small-molecule profiles. Mining such data in the context of chemical structure and synthesis strategies can inform decisions about chemistry procurement and library development, leading to optimal small-molecule screening collections.
Full Text Available How can diversity-oriented strategies for chemical synthesis provide chemical tools to help shape our understanding of complex cancer pathways and progress anti-cancer drug discovery efforts? This review (surveying the literature from 2003 to the present considers the applications of diversity-oriented synthesis (DOS, biology-oriented synthesis (BIOS and associated strategies to cancer biology and drug discovery, summarising the syntheses of novel and often highly complex scaffolds from pluripotent or synthetically versatile building blocks. We highlight the role of diversity-oriented synthetic strategies in producing new chemical tools to interrogate cancer biology pathways through the assembly of relevant libraries and their application to phenotypic and biochemical screens. The use of diversity-oriented strategies to explore structure-activity relationships in more advanced drug discovery projects is discussed. We show how considering appropriate and variable focus in library design has provided a spectrum of DOS approaches relevant at all stages in anti-cancer drug discovery.
Carter, Sarah R. [J. Craig Venter Institute; Rodemeyer, Michael [University of Virginia; Garfinkel, Michele S. [EMBO; Friedman, Robert M [J. Craig Venter Institute
Synthetic Biology and the U.S. Biotechnology Regulatory System: Challenges and Options Sarah R. Carter, Ph.D., J. Craig Venter Institute; Michael Rodemeyer, J.D., University of Virginia; Michele S. Garfinkel, Ph.D., EMBO; Robert M. Friedman, Ph.D., J. Craig Venter Institute In recent years, a range of genetic engineering techniques referred to as “synthetic biology” has significantly expanded the tool kit available to scientists and engineers, providing them with far greater capabilities to engineer organisms than previous techniques allowed. The field of synthetic biology includes the relatively new ability to synthesize long pieces of DNA from chemicals, as well as improved methods for genetic manipulation and design of genetic pathways to achieve more precise control of biological systems. These advances will help usher in a new generation of genetically engineered microbes, plants, and animals. The JCVI Policy Center team, along with researchers at the University of Virginia and EMBO, examined how well the current U.S. regulatory system for genetically engineered products will handle the near-term introduction of organisms engineered using synthetic biology. In particular, the focus was on those organisms intended to be used or grown directly in the environment, outside of a contained facility. The study concludes that the U.S. regulatory agencies have adequate legal authority to address most, but not all, potential environmental, health and safety concerns posed by these organisms. Such near-term products are likely to represent incremental changes rather than a marked departure from previous genetically engineered organisms. However, the study also identified two key challenges for the regulatory system, which are detailed in the report. First, USDA’s authority over genetically engineered plants depends on the use of an older engineering technique that is no longer necessary for many applications. The shift to synthetic biology and other newer genetic
Silberg, J. J.; Masiello, C. A.; Cheng, H. Y.
Microbes drive processes in the Earth system far exceeding their physical scale, mediating significant fluxes in the global C and N cycles. The tools of synthetic biology have the potential to significantly improve our understanding of microbes' role in the Earth system; however, these tools have not yet seen wide laboratory use because synthetically "programmed" microbes typically report by fluorescing (expressing green fluorescent protein), making them challenging to deploy into many Earth materials, the majority of which are not transparent and are heterogeneous (soils, sediments, and biomass). We are developing a new suite of biosensors that report instead by releasing gases. We will provide an overview of the use of gas-reporting biosensors in biogeochemistry and will report the development of the systematics of these sensors. These sensors will make tractable the testing of gene expression hypotheses derived from metagenomics data. Examples of processes that could be tracked non-invasively with gas sensors include coordination of biofilm formation, nitrification, rhizobial infection of plant roots, and at least some forms of methanogenesis, all of which are managed by an easily-engineered cell-cell communication system. Another relatively simple process to track with gas sensors is horizontal gene transfer. Successful development of gas biosensors for Earth science applications will require addressing issues including: engineering the intensity and selectivity of microbial gas production to maximize the signal to noise using the tools of synthetic biology; normalizing the gas reporter signal to cell population size, since the number of cells and gene expression both contribute to gas production; managing gas diffusion effects on signal shape; and developing multiple gases that can be used in parallel to report on multiple biological processes in parallel. We will report on progress addressing each of these issues.
Wu, Meiye [Sandia National Lab. (SNL-CA), Livermore, CA (United States)
The emergence of multiple drug resistant bacteria poses threats to human health, agriculture and food safety. Annually over 100,000 deaths and up to $20 billion loss to the U.S. economy are attributed to multiple drug resistant bacteria. With only four new chemical antibiotics in the drug development pipeline, we are in dire need of new solutions to address the emerging threat of multiple drug resistance. We propose a paradigm-changing approach to address the multi-drug resistant bacteria problem by utilizing Synthetic Biology (SynBio) methodologies to create and evolve “designer” bacteriophages or phages – viruses that specifically infect bacteria – to infect and kill newly emerging pathogenic bacterial strains WITHOUT the need for chemical antibiotics. A major advantage of using phage to combat pathogenic bacteria is that phages can co-evolve with their bacterial host, and Sandia can be the first in the world to establish an industrial scale Synthetic Biology pipeline for phage directed evolution for safe, targeted, customizable solution to bacterial drug resistance. Since there is no existing phage directed evolution effort within or outside of Sandia, this proposal is suitable as a high-risk LDRD effort to create the first pipeline for such an endeavor. The high potential reward nature of this proposal will be the immediate impact in decontamination and restoration of surfaces and infrastructure, with longer term impact in human or animal therapeutics. The synthetic biology and screening approaches will lead to fundamental knowledge of phage/bacteria co-evolution, making Sandia a world leader in directed evolution of bacteriophages.
Richardson, Sarah M; Nunley, Paul W; Yarrington, Robert M; Boeke, Jef D; Bader, Joel S
GeneDesign is a set of web applications that provides public access to a nucleotide manipulation pipeline for synthetic biology. The server is public and freely accessible, and the source is available for download under the New BSD License. Since GeneDesign was published and made publicly available 3 years ago, we have made its code base more efficient, added several algorithms and modules, updated the restriction enzyme library, added batch processing capabilities, and added several command line modules, all of which we briefly describe here.
Wang, Harris H; Church, George M
Engineering at the scale of whole genomes requires fundamentally new molecular biology tools. Recent advances in recombineering using synthetic oligonucleotides enable the rapid generation of mutants at high efficiency and specificity and can be implemented at the genome scale. With these techniques, libraries of mutants can be generated, from which individuals with functionally useful phenotypes can be isolated. Furthermore, populations of cells can be evolved in situ by directed evolution using complex pools of oligonucleotides. Here, we discuss ways to utilize these multiplexed genome engineering methods, with special emphasis on experimental design and implementation.
Behrendorff, James B Y H; Gillam, Elizabeth M J
The 30 years since the inception of Chemical Research in Toxicology, game-changing advances in chemical and molecular biology, the fundamental disciplines underpinning molecular toxicology, have been made. While these have led to important advances in the study of mechanisms by which chemicals damage cells and systems, there has been less focus on applying these advances to prediction, detection, and mitigation of toxicity. Over the last ∼15 years, synthetic biology, the repurposing of biological "parts" in systems engineered for useful ends, has been explored in other areas of the biomedical and life sciences, for such applications as detecting metabolites, drug discovery and delivery, investigating disease mechanisms, improving medical treatment, and producing useful chemicals. These examples provide models for the application of synthetic biology to toxicology, which, for the most part, has not yet benefited from such approaches. In this perspective, we review the synthetic biology approaches that have been applied to date and speculate on possible short to medium term and "blue sky" aspirations for synthetic biology, particularly in clinical and environmental toxicology. Finally, we point out key hurdles that must be overcome for the full potential of synthetic biology to be realized.
Full Text Available Biological phosphate removal is an important process having gained worldwide attention and widely used for removing phosphorus from wastewater. The present investigation was aimed to screen the efficient phosphate solubilizing bacterial isolates and used to remove phosphate from synthetic wastewater under shaking flasks conditions. Pseudomonas sp. JPSB12, Enterobacter sp. TPSB20, Flavobacterium sp. TPSB23 and mixed bacterial consortium (Pseudomonas sp. JPSB12+Enterobacter sp. TPSB20+Flavobacterium sp. TPSB23 were used for the removal of phosphate. Among the individual strains, Enterobacter sp. TPSB20 was removed maximum phosphate (61.75% from synthetic wastewater in presence of glucose as a carbon source. The consortium was effectively removed phosphate (74.15-82.50% in the synthetic wastewater when compared to individual strains. The pH changes in culture medium with time and extracellular phosphatase activity (acid and alkaline were also investigated. The efficient removal of phosphate by the consortium may be due to the synergistic activity among the individual strains and phosphatase enzyme activity. The use of bacterial consortium in the remediation of phosphate contaminated aquatic environments has been discussed.
Full Text Available Derivatives of isoindolines are a group of nitrogen heterocyclic compounds that are less represented in scientific literature than other heterocyclic compounds containing the nitrogen atom. Natural derivatives of isoindolines were first isolated in the early 1960's and showed various interesting biological activity, e.g. staurosporine indicating antimicrobial, hypotensive, and cytotoxic activity, and acts as thrombocytes aggregation inhibitor and protein kinase inhibitor. Also, there are reports of their application in herbicide and dye industries. Due to these findings, isoindolines received much attention from synthetic organic chemists, and thus new synthetic methods were developed. Most of the methods include phthalaldehyde and corresponding aliphatic and aromatic amines as starting material. Products of these reactions are highly dependent on the reaction conditions, and differently substituted isoindolines are isolated. Synthetic methods starting from other compounds include phthalonitrile, phthalanhydride and phthalaldehyde acid as well as multicomponent reactions. They are also applied as ligands in coordination chemistry, which enables the modelling of three-dimensional structures with desirable areal properties.
Wiecek, E; Szczepaniak, M; Bielichowska-Cybula, G; Woźniak, H
Metal content in the chemical structure of asbestos and man-made mineral fibres can affect their carcinogenic properties. As the chemical composition (metal content) of man-made silicate substitutes for asbestos can be varied almost at will in the process of their manufacture, the search for potentially least carcinogenic silicates appears to be of utmost importance. This paper presents diffractometric characteristics, dimensional analysis and morphology data for 4 synthetic amphibole fibres with chemical compositions differing from that of natural crocidolite amphibole. Those included the following synthetic amphiboles: Na2Mg6Ge8O22(OH)2; Na2Ni6Si8O22(OH)2; Na2Mg6Si8O22(OH)2; Na2Co6Si8O22(OH)2. The studied amphiboles differed in fibre length and diameter. The magnesium amphibole contained the longest (6.03 microns) fibres, and the nickel amphibole contained the shortest (2.7 microns) fibres, resembling those of crocidolite. The highest content (54.7%) of respirable fibres was found in the magnesium amphibole, and the lowest (15.9%) in the natural crocidolite. The authors suggest that the detected differences in the physical and chemical characteristics of the synthetic amphiboles may affect their biological properties.
Giessen, Tobias W; Marahiel, Mohamed A
Peptide natural products continue to play an important role in modern medicine as last-resort treatments of many life-threatening diseases, as they display many interesting biological activities ranging from antibiotic to antineoplastic. A large fraction of these microbial natural products is assembled by ribosome-independent mechanisms. Progress in sequencing technology and the mechanistic understanding of secondary metabolite pathways has led to the discovery of many formerly cryptic natural products and a molecular understanding of their assembly. Those advances enable us to apply protein and metabolic engineering approaches towards the manipulation of biosynthetic pathways. In this review we discuss the application potential of both templated and non-templated pathways as well as chemoenzymatic strategies for the structural diversification and tailoring of peptide natural products. Copyright © 2012 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Co-localisation is a widely used measurement in immunohistochemical analysis to determine if fluorescently labelled biological entities, such as cells, proteins or molecules share a same location. However the measurement of co-localisation is challenging due to the complex nature of such fluorescent images, especially when multiple focal planes are captured. The current state-of-art co-localisation measurements of 3-dimensional (3D image stacks are biased by noise and cross-overs from non-consecutive planes. METHOD: In this study, we have developed Co-localisation Intensity Coefficients (CICs and Co-localisation Binary Coefficients (CBCs, which uses rich z-stack data from neighbouring focal planes to identify similarities between image intensities of two and potentially more fluorescently-labelled biological entities. This was developed using z-stack images from murine organotypic slice cultures from central nervous system tissue, and two sets of pseudo-data. A large amount of non-specific cross-over situations are excluded using this method. This proposed method is also proven to be robust in recognising co-localisations even when images are polluted with a range of noises. RESULTS: The proposed CBCs and CICs produce robust co-localisation measurements which are easy to interpret, resilient to noise and capable of removing a large amount of false positivity, such as non-specific cross-overs. Performance of this method of measurement is significantly more accurate than existing measurements, as determined statistically using pseudo datasets of known values. This method provides an important and reliable tool for fluorescent 3D neurobiological studies, and will benefit other biological studies which measure fluorescence co-localisation in 3D.
While the metabolisms of terran organisms are accessible for study and their byproducts are, for the most part, well known, the "diversity" of terran biology arises (as far as we know) from a single common ancestor, represents only a small fraction of possible chemical difersity, and may reflect only a fraction of the possible chemical diversity that might support Darwinian evolution . This talk will consider laboratory experiments on origins  and synthetic biology , asking how they might inform us about alternative biochemistries, and whether we have any chance of observing remotely their by-products, recognizing the uncertanties in both our models for "weird life" and our models of abiotic processes in incompletely defined planetary environments.
Full Text Available Dominated as it is by visionary images of the future and influenced by the ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ (RRI approach, the discourse about synthetic biology (SynBio and the prospects for its application may be interpreted as an arena for argument about the future of our societies generally. At a time when the widespread end of the systemic conflict between capitalism and socialism has made it rare for the whole of society to engage in debates on fundamental political and socioeconomic issues, discourses on science and technology can apparently be used to address questions of this kind indirectly. It is possible to clarify this function of SynBio discourse by setting it in its historical context, in which respect the focus is placed on older discourses about the societal significance of biology and its technological applications.
Wolyniak, Michael J.; Alvarez, Consuelo J.; Chandrasekaran, Vidya; Grana, Theresa M.; Holgado, Andrea; Jones, Christopher J.; Morris, Robert W.; Pereira, Anil L.; Stamm, Joyce; Washington, Talitha M.; Yang, Yixin
Synthetic biology is the application of engineering and mathematical principles to develop novel biological devices and circuits. What separates synthetic biology from traditional molecular biology is the development of standardized interchangeable DNA "parts," just as advances in engineering in the nineteenth century brought about standardized…
Wolyniak, Michael J.; Alvarez, Consuelo J.; Chandrasekaran, Vidya; Grana, Theresa M.; Holgado, Andrea; Jones, Christopher J.; Morris, Robert W.; Pereira, Anil L.; Stamm, Joyce; Washington, Talitha M.; Yang, Yixin
Synthetic biology is the application of engineering and mathematical principles to develop novel biological devices and circuits. What separates synthetic biology from traditional molecular biology is the development of standardized interchangeable DNA "parts," just as advances in engineering in the nineteenth century brought about standardized…
Voliotis, M.; Liverpool, T. B.
Living cells sense and process environmental cues through noisy biochemical mechanisms. This apparatus limits the scope of engineering cells as viable sensors. Here, we highlight a mechanism that enables robust, population-wide responses to external stimulation based on cellular communication, known as quorum sensing. We propose a synthetic circuit consisting of two mutually repressing quorum sensing modules. At low cell densities the system behaves like a genetic toggle switch, while at higher cell densities the behaviour of nearby cells is coupled via diffusible quorum sensing molecules. We show by systematic coarse graining that at large length and timescales that the system can be described using the Ising model of a ferromagnet. Thus, in analogy with magnetic systems, the sensitivity of the population-wide response, or its ‘susceptibility’ to a change in the external signal, is highly enhanced for a narrow range of cell-cell coupling close to a critical value. We expect that our approach will be used to enhance the sensitivity of synthetic bio-sensing networks.
Goñi-Moreno, Angel; Carcajona, Marta; Kim, Juhyun; Martínez-García, Esteban; Amos, Martyn; de Lorenzo, Víctor
As synthetic biology moves away from trial and error and embraces more formal processes, workflows have emerged that cover the roadmap from conceptualization of a genetic device to its construction and measurement. This latter aspect (i.e., characterization and measurement of synthetic genetic constructs) has received relatively little attention to date, but it is crucial for their outcome. An end-to-end use case for engineering a simple synthetic device is presented, which is supported by information standards and computational methods and focuses on such characterization/measurement. This workflow captures the main stages of genetic device design and description and offers standardized tools for both population-based measurement and single-cell analysis. To this end, three separate aspects are addressed. First, the specific vector features are discussed. Although device/circuit design has been successfully automated, important structural information is usually overlooked, as in the case of plasmid vectors. The use of the Standard European Vector Architecture (SEVA) is advocated for selecting the optimal carrier of a design and its thorough description in order to unequivocally correlate digital definitions and molecular devices. A digital version of this plasmid format was developed with the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) along with a software tool that allows users to embed genetic parts in vector cargoes. This enables annotation of a mathematical model of the device's kinetic reactions formatted with the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML). From that point onward, the experimental results and their in silico counterparts proceed alongside, with constant feedback to preserve consistency between them. A second aspect involves a framework for the calibration of fluorescence-based measurements. One of the most challenging endeavors in standardization, metrology, is tackled by reinterpreting the experimental output in light of simulation results, allowing
Zhang, Hai-Yan; Wang, Xing-Hui; Dong, Li; Wang, Zhi-Ping; Liu, Bing; Lv, Jie; Xing, Hui-Li; Han, Chun-Yan; Wang, Xue-Chen; Chen, Qi-Jun
Efficient generation of plants carrying mutations in multiple genes remains a challenge. Using two or more orthogonal CRISPR/Cas systems can generate plants with multi-gene mutations, but assembly of these systems requires a robust, high-capacity toolkit. Here, we describe MISSA 2.0 (multiple-round in vivo site-specific assembly 2.0), an extensively updated toolkit for assembly of two or more CRISPR/Cas systems. We developed a novel suicide donor vector system based on plasmid RK2, which has much higher cloning capacity than the original, plasmid R6K-based system. We validated the utility of MISSA 2.0 by assembling multiple DNA fragments into the E. coli chromosome, and by creating transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana that constitutively or inducibly overexpress multiple genes. We then demonstrated that the higher cloning capacity of the RK2-derived MISSA 2.0 donor vectors facilitated the assembly of two orthogonal CRISPR/Cas systems including SpCas9 and SaCas9, and thus facilitated the creation of transgenic lines harboring these systems. We anticipate that MISSA 2.0 will enable substantial advancements in multiplex genome editing based on two or more orthogonal CRISPR/Cas9 systems, as well as in plant synthetic biology.
Zhang, Hai-Yan; Wang, Xing-Hui; Dong, Li; Wang, Zhi-Ping; Liu, Bing; Lv, Jie; Xing, Hui-Li; Han, Chun-Yan; Wang, Xue-Chen; Chen, Qi-Jun
Efficient generation of plants carrying mutations in multiple genes remains a challenge. Using two or more orthogonal CRISPR/Cas systems can generate plants with multi-gene mutations, but assembly of these systems requires a robust, high-capacity toolkit. Here, we describe MISSA 2.0 (multiple-round in vivo site-specific assembly 2.0), an extensively updated toolkit for assembly of two or more CRISPR/Cas systems. We developed a novel suicide donor vector system based on plasmid RK2, which has much higher cloning capacity than the original, plasmid R6K-based system. We validated the utility of MISSA 2.0 by assembling multiple DNA fragments into the E. coli chromosome, and by creating transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana that constitutively or inducibly overexpress multiple genes. We then demonstrated that the higher cloning capacity of the RK2-derived MISSA 2.0 donor vectors facilitated the assembly of two orthogonal CRISPR/Cas systems including SpCas9 and SaCas9, and thus facilitated the creation of transgenic lines harboring these systems. We anticipate that MISSA 2.0 will enable substantial advancements in multiplex genome editing based on two or more orthogonal CRISPR/Cas9 systems, as well as in plant synthetic biology. PMID:28155921
Zou, Xuan; Wang, Lianrong; Li, Zhiqiang; Luo, Jie; Wang, Yunfu; Deng, Zixin; Du, Shiming; Chen, Shi
Antibiotic production is often governed by large gene clusters composed of genes related to antibiotic scaffold synthesis, tailoring, regulation, and resistance. With the expansion of genome sequencing, a considerable number of antibiotic gene clusters has been isolated and characterized. The emerging genome engineering techniques make it possible towards more efficient engineering of antibiotics. In addition to genomic editing, multiple synthetic biology approaches have been developed for the exploration and improvement of antibiotic natural products. Here, we review the progress in the development of these genome editing techniques used to engineer new antibiotics, focusing on three aspects of genome engineering: direct cloning of large genomic fragments, genome engineering of gene clusters, and regulation of gene cluster expression. This review will not only summarize the current uses of genomic engineering techniques for cloning and assembly of antibiotic gene clusters or for altering antibiotic synthetic pathways but will also provide perspectives on the future directions of rebuilding biological systems for the design of novel antibiotics. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Kanigowska, Paulina; Shen, Yue; Zheng, Yijing; Rosser, Susan; Cai, Yizhi
Acoustic droplet ejection (ADE) technology uses focused acoustic energy to transfer nanoliter-scale liquid droplets with high precision and accuracy. This noncontact, tipless, low-volume dispensing technology minimizes the possibility of cross-contamination and potentially reduces the costs of reagents and consumables. To date, acoustic dispensers have mainly been used in screening libraries of compounds. In this paper, we describe the first application of this powerful technology to the rapidly developing field of synthetic biology, for DNA synthesis and assembly at the nanoliter scale using a Labcyte Echo 550 acoustic dispenser. We were able to successfully downscale PCRs and the popular one-pot DNA assembly methods, Golden Gate and Gibson assemblies, from the microliter to the nanoliter scale with high assembly efficiency, which effectively cut the reagent cost by 20- to 100-fold. We envision that acoustic dispensing will become an instrumental technology in synthetic biology, in particular in the era of DNA foundries. © 2015 Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening.
Arendt, Philipp; Pollier, Jacob; Callewaert, Nico; Goossens, Alain
With tens of thousands of characterized members, terpenoids constitute the largest class of natural compounds that are synthesized by all living organisms. Several terpenoids play primary roles in the maintenance of cell membrane fluidity, as pigments or as phytohormones, but most of them function as specialized metabolites that are involved in plant resistance to herbivores or plant-environment interactions. Terpenoids are an essential component of human nutrition, and many are economically important pharmaceuticals, aromatics and potential next-generation biofuels. Because of the often low abundance in their natural source, as well as the demand for novel terpenoid structures with new or improved bioactivities, terpenoid biosynthesis has become a prime target for metabolic engineering and synthetic biology projects. In this review we focus on the creation of new-to-nature or tailor-made plant-derived terpenoids in photosynthetic organisms, in particular by means of combinatorial biosynthesis and the activation of silent metabolism. We reflect on the characteristics of different potential photosynthetic host organisms and recent advances in synthetic biology and discuss their utility for the (heterologous) production of (novel) terpenoids.
Carbonell-Ballestero, Max; Duran-Nebreda, Salva; Montañez, Raúl; Solé, Ricard; Macía, Javier; Rodríguez-Caso, Carlos
Within the field of synthetic biology, a rational design of genetic parts should include a causal understanding of their input-output responses-the so-called transfer function-and how to tune them. However, a commonly adopted strategy is to fit data to Hill-shaped curves without considering the underlying molecular mechanisms. Here we provide a novel mathematical formalization that allows prediction of the global behavior of a synthetic device by considering the actual information from the involved biological parts. This is achieved by adopting an enzymology-like framework, where transfer functions are described in terms of their input affinity constant and maximal response. As a proof of concept, we characterize a set of Lux homoserine-lactone-inducible genetic devices with different levels of Lux receptor and signal molecule. Our model fits the experimental results and predicts the impact of the receptor's ribosome-binding site strength, as a tunable parameter that affects gene expression. The evolutionary implications are outlined.
ter Meulen, Ruud; Calladine, Alex
The emerging field of synthetic biology aims to move beyond our current state of being able to read and manipulate genetic code to being able to write it. Drawing on the other disciplines such as engineering it will allow scientists to create new artificial biological systems as well as modify and redesign systems which already exist in nature. This is likely to result in a range of new and innovative applications. This essay has three aims. First, it provides a brief introduction to synthetic biology, explains what it is, some of the ways in which it has been defined and some of its possible future applications. Second, the essay considers some of the ethical questions which synthetic biology may raise. Finally, the essay reflects on how we ought to answer these sorts of questions and suggests a more reflective, philosophical approach.
Guo, Yongyi; Qian, Min; Ge, Hao
Multiple dynamic pathways always exist in biological networks, but their robustness against internal fluctuations and relative stability have not been well recognized and carefully analyzed yet. Here we try to address these issues through an illustrative example, namely the Siah-1/beta-catenin/p14/19 ARF loop of protein p53 dynamics. Its deterministic Boolean network model predicts that two parallel pathways with comparable magnitudes of attractive basins should exist after the protein p53 is activated when a cell becomes harmfully disturbed. Once the low but non-neglectable intrinsic fluctuations are incorporated into the model, we show that a phase transition phenomenon is emerged: in one parameter region the probability weights of the normal pathway, reported in experimental literature, are comparable with the other pathway which is seemingly abnormal with the unknown functions, whereas, in some other parameter regions, the probability weight of the abnormal pathway can even dominate and become globally at...
Distributed search problems are ubiquitous in Artificial Life (ALife). Many distributed search problems require identifying a rare and previously unseen event and producing a rapid response. This challenge amounts to finding and removing an unknown needle in a very large haystack. Traditional computational search models are unlikely to find, nonetheless, appropriately respond to, novel events, particularly given data distributed across multiple platforms in a variety of formats and sources with variable and unknown reliability. Biological systems have evolved solutions to distributed search and response under uncertainty. Immune systems and ant colonies efficiently scale up massively parallel search with automated response in highly dynamic environments, and both do so using distributed coordination without centralized control. These properties are relevant to ALife, where distributed, autonomous, robust and adaptive control is needed to design robot swarms, mobile computing networks, computer security system...
Pankievicz, Vânia C S; do Amaral, Fernanda P; Santos, Karina F D N; Agtuca, Beverly; Xu, Youwen; Schueller, Michael J; Arisi, Ana Carolina M; Steffens, Maria B R; de Souza, Emanuel M; Pedrosa, Fábio O; Stacey, Gary; Ferrieri, Richard A
Nitrogen-fixing rhizobacteria can promote plant growth; however, it is controversial whether biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) from associative interaction contributes to growth promotion. The roots of Setaria viridis, a model C4 grass, were effectively colonized by bacterial inoculants resulting in a significant enhancement of growth. Nitrogen-13 tracer studies provided direct evidence for tracer uptake by the host plant and incorporation into protein. Indeed, plants showed robust growth under nitrogen-limiting conditions when inoculated with an ammonium-excreting strain of Azospirillum brasilense. (11)C-labeling experiments showed that patterns in central carbon metabolism and resource allocation exhibited by nitrogen-starved plants were largely reversed by bacterial inoculation, such that they resembled plants grown under nitrogen-sufficient conditions. Adoption of S. viridis as a model should promote research into the mechanisms of associative nitrogen fixation with the ultimate goal of greater adoption of BNF for sustainable crop production.
Full Text Available The use of Bacillus subtilis in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering is highly desirable to take advantage of the unique metabolic pathways present in this organism. To do this, an evaluation of B. subtilis' intrinsic biological parts is required to determine the best strategies to accurately regulate metabolic circuits and expression of target proteins. The strengths of promoter candidates were evaluated by measuring relative fluorescence units of a green fluorescent protein reporter, integrated into B. subtilis' chromosome. A total of 84 predicted promoter sequences located upstream of different classes of proteins including heat shock proteins, cell-envelope proteins, and proteins resistant against toxic metals (based on similarity and other kinds of genes were tested. The expression levels measured ranged from 0.0023 to 4.53-fold of the activity of the well-characterized strong promoter P43. No significant shifts were observed when strains, carrying different promoter candidates, were cultured at high temperature or in media with ethanol, but some strains showed increased activity when cultured under high osmotic pressure. Randomly selected promoter candidates were tested and found to activate transcription of thermostable β-galactosidase (bgaB at a similar level, implying the ability of these sequences to function as promoter elements in multiple genetic contexts. In addition, selected promoters elevated the final production of both cytoplasmic bgaB and secreted protein α-amylase to about fourfold and twofold, respectively. The generated data allows a deeper understanding of B. subtilis' metabolism and will facilitate future work to develop this organism for synthetic biology.
Cummings, Christopher L; Kuzma, Jennifer
Synthetic biology (SB) applies engineering principles to biology for the construction of novel biological systems designed for useful purposes. From an oversight perspective, SB products come with significant uncertainty. Yet there is a need to anticipate and prepare for SB applications before deployment. This study develops a Societal Risk Evaluation Scheme (SRES) in order to advance methods for anticipatory governance of emerging technologies such as SB. The SRES is based upon societal risk factors that were identified as important through a policy Delphi study. These factors range from those associated with traditional risk assessment, such as health and environmental consequences, to broader features of risk such as those associated with reversibility, manageability, anticipated levels of public concern, and uncertainty. A multi-disciplinary panel with diverse perspectives and affiliations assessed four case studies of SB using the SRES. Rankings of the SRES components are compared within and across the case studies. From these comparisons, we found levels of controllability and familiarity associated with the cases to be important for overall SRES rankings. From a theoretical standpoint, this study illustrates the applicability of the psychometric paradigm to evaluating SB cases. In addition, our paper describes how the SRES can be incorporated into anticipatory governance models as a screening tool to prioritize research, information collection, and dialogue in the face of the limited capacity of governance systems. To our knowledge, this is the first study to elicit data on specific cases of SB with the goal of developing theory and tools for risk governance.
Synthetic biology (SB) applies engineering principles to biology for the construction of novel biological systems designed for useful purposes. From an oversight perspective, SB products come with significant uncertainty. Yet there is a need to anticipate and prepare for SB applications before deployment. This study develops a Societal Risk Evaluation Scheme (SRES) in order to advance methods for anticipatory governance of emerging technologies such as SB. The SRES is based upon societal risk factors that were identified as important through a policy Delphi study. These factors range from those associated with traditional risk assessment, such as health and environmental consequences, to broader features of risk such as those associated with reversibility, manageability, anticipated levels of public concern, and uncertainty. A multi-disciplinary panel with diverse perspectives and affiliations assessed four case studies of SB using the SRES. Rankings of the SRES components are compared within and across the case studies. From these comparisons, we found levels of controllability and familiarity associated with the cases to be important for overall SRES rankings. From a theoretical standpoint, this study illustrates the applicability of the psychometric paradigm to evaluating SB cases. In addition, our paper describes how the SRES can be incorporated into anticipatory governance models as a screening tool to prioritize research, information collection, and dialogue in the face of the limited capacity of governance systems. To our knowledge, this is the first study to elicit data on specific cases of SB with the goal of developing theory and tools for risk governance. PMID:28052080
Full Text Available Peptides have gained increased interest as therapeutics during recent years. More than 60 peptide drugs have reached the market for the benefit of patients and several hundreds of novel therapeutic peptides are in preclinical and clinical development. The key contributor to this success is the potent and specific, yet safe, mode of action of peptides. Among the wide range of biologically-active peptides, naturally-occurring marine-derived cyclopolypeptides exhibit a broad range of unusual and potent pharmacological activities. Because of their size and complexity, proline-rich cyclic peptides (PRCPs occupy a crucial chemical space in drug discovery that may provide useful scaffolds for modulating more challenging biological targets, such as protein-protein interactions and allosteric binding sites. Diverse pharmacological activities of natural cyclic peptides from marine sponges, tunicates and cyanobacteria have encouraged efforts to develop cyclic peptides with well-known synthetic methods, including solid-phase and solution-phase techniques of peptide synthesis. The present review highlights the natural resources, unique structural features and the most relevant biological properties of proline-rich peptides of marine-origin, focusing on the potential therapeutic role that the PRCPs may play as a promising source of new peptide-based novel drugs.