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.
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. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
Archer, Eric; Süel, Gürol M
Despite their obvious relationship and overlap, the field of physics is blessed with many insightful laws, while such laws are sadly absent in biology. Here we aim to discuss how the rise of a more recent field known as synthetic biology may allow us to more directly test hypotheses regarding the possible design principles of natural biological networks and systems. In particular, this review focuses on synthetic gene regulatory networks engineered to perform specific functions or exhibit particular dynamic behaviors. Advances in synthetic biology may set the stage to uncover the relationship of potential biological principles to those developed in physics. (review article)
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.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration — The ultimate goal of the Synthetic Biological Membrane project is to develop a new type of membrane that will enable the wastewater treatment system required on...
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.
Martella, Andrea; Pollard, Steven M; Dai, Junbiao; Cai, Yizhi
The enabling technologies of synthetic biology are opening up new opportunities for engineering and enhancement of mammalian cells. This will stimulate diverse applications in many life science sectors such as regenerative medicine, development of biosensing cell lines, therapeutic protein production, and generation of new synthetic genetic regulatory circuits. Harnessing the full potential of these new engineering-based approaches requires the design and assembly of large DNA constructs-pote...
Müller, Kristian M; Arndt, Katja M
Synthetic Biology is founded on the idea that complex biological systems are built most effectively when the task is divided in abstracted layers and all required components are readily available and well-described. This requires interdisciplinary collaboration at several levels and a common understanding of the functioning of each component. Standardization of the physical composition and the description of each part is required as well as a controlled vocabulary to aid design and ensure interoperability. Here, we describe standardization initiatives from several disciplines, which can contribute to Synthetic Biology. We provide examples of the concerted standardization efforts of the BioBricks Foundation comprising the request for comments (RFC) and the Registry of Standardized Biological parts as well as the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition.
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.
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. (review)
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
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...
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.
For some, synthetic biology represents great hope in offering possible solutions to many of the world's biggest problems, from hunger to sustainable development. Others remain fearful of the harmful uses, such as bioweapons, that synthetic biology can lend itself to, and most hold that issues of biosafety are of utmost importance. In this article, I will evaluate these points of view and conclude that although the biggest promises of synthetic biology are unlikely to become reality, and the probability of accidents is fairly substantial, synthetic biology could still be seen to benefit humanity by enhancing our ethical understanding and by offering a boost to world economy.
Yuzawa, Satoshi; Backman, Tyler W.H.; Keasling, Jay D.
). The modules are composed of enzymatic domains that share sequence and functional similarity across all known PKSs. We have used the nomenclature of synthetic biology to classify the enzymatic domains and modules as parts and devices, respectively, and have generated detailed lists of both. In addition, we...... realize the potential that synthetic biology approaches bring to this class of molecules....
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.
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...
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. PMID:22907209
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.
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.
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. © 2016 The Author(s). published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
Bashor, Caleb J; Collins, James J
Engineering synthetic gene regulatory circuits proceeds through iterative cycles of design, building, and testing. Initial circuit designs must rely on often-incomplete models of regulation established by fields of reductive inquiry-biochemistry and molecular and systems biology. As differences in designed and experimentally observed circuit behavior are inevitably encountered, investigated, and resolved, each turn of the engineering cycle can force a resynthesis in understanding of natural network function. Here, we outline research that uses the process of gene circuit engineering to advance biological discovery. Synthetic gene circuit engineering research has not only refined our understanding of cellular regulation but furnished biologists with a toolkit that can be directed at natural systems to exact precision manipulation of network structure. As we discuss, using circuit engineering to predictively reorganize, rewire, and reconstruct cellular regulation serves as the ultimate means of testing and understanding how cellular phenotype emerges from systems-level network function. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biophysics Volume 47 is May 20, 2018. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration — This project focused on employing advanced biological engineering and bioelectrochemical reactor systems to increase life support loop closure and in situ resource...
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.
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.
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. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
McLeod, Carmen; Nerlich, Brigitte
Metaphors are not just decorative rhetorical devices that make speech pretty. They are fundamental tools for thinking about the world and acting on the world. The language we use to make a better world matters; words matter; metaphors matter. Words have consequences - ethical, social and legal ones, as well as political and economic ones. They need to be used 'responsibly'. They also need to be studied carefully - this is what we want to do through this editorial and the related thematic collection. In the context of synthetic biology, natural and social scientists have become increasingly interested in metaphors, a wave of interest that we want to exploit and amplify. We want to build on emerging articles and books on synthetic biology, metaphors of life and the ethical and moral implications of such metaphors. This editorial provides a brief introduction to synthetic biology and responsible innovation, as well as a comprehensive review of literature on the social, cultural and ethical impacts of metaphor use in genomics and synthetic biology. Our aim is to stimulate an interdisciplinary and international discussion on the impact that metaphors can have on science, policy and publics in the context of synthetic biology.
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.
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. © 2016 The Author(s).
Klokočar-Šmit Zlata D.
Full Text Available Control of cabbage pests is oriented towards the use of efficient but high-risk insecticides, some of them being endocrine disruptors. Biopesticides are more environment-friendly, operator-and consumers-safe, but they have low initial toxicity, low efficacy to advanced larval stages, and they require certain knowledge of pest and host biology. In our laboratory experiments we have investigated the effects of formulated synthetic pyrethroid cypermethrin (0.3 l/ha and biological products - formulations based on Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (2 and 3/ha and Spinosad (0.1 l/ha - on large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae L. larvae-instars 2, 3, 4 and 5. The effect of insecticides was inversely proportional to larval instars. Btk effect could be improved if tank-mixed with cypermethrin. The mixing of ready-made products allows a reduction 3 and 6 times compared with the recommended dose, still obtaining satisfactory results. Rate of leaf damage was reduced when tank mixtures were used. Use of two products in mixture would be of significance especially for control of advanced late instars late in season, when Btk action alone is insufficient. Spinosad was effective in inducing mortality and reducing leaf damage by all larval instars, therefore we assume that the dose could be reduced. Feeding rate and mortality are equally important parameters when assessing biopesticide efficacy. This strategy should also reduce the possibility of inducing resistance in pest population. It also tends to reduce the residues in commodities and is good solution in production of hygienic and health safe food.
Complicated systems cannot survive the rigors of a chaotic environment, without balancing mechanisms that sense, decide upon and counteract the exerted disturbances. Especially so with living organisms, forced by competition to incredible complexities, escalating also their self-controlling plight. Therefore, they compute. Can we harness biological mechanisms to create artificial computing systems? Biology offers several levels of design abstraction: molecular machines, cells, organisms... ranging from the more easily-defined to the more inherently complex. At the bottom of this stack we find the nucleic acids, RNA and DNA, with their digital structure and relatively precise interactions. They are central enablers of designing artificial biological systems, in the confluence of engineering and biology, that we call Synthetic biology. In the first part, let us follow their trail towards an overview of building computing machines with molecules -- and in the second part, take the case study of iGEM Greece 201...
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…
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. Copyright © 2017 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; all rights reserved.
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...
Black, Joshua B; Perez-Pinera, Pablo; Gersbach, Charles A
The programming of new functions into mammalian cells has tremendous application in research and medicine. Continued improvements in the capacity to sequence and synthesize DNA have rapidly increased our understanding of mechanisms of gene function and regulation on a genome-wide scale and have expanded the set of genetic components available for programming cell biology. The invention of new research tools, including targetable DNA-binding systems such as CRISPR/Cas9 and sensor-actuator devices that can recognize and respond to diverse chemical, mechanical, and optical inputs, has enabled precise control of complex cellular behaviors at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. These tools have been critical for the expansion of synthetic biology techniques from prokaryotic and lower eukaryotic hosts to mammalian systems. Recent progress in the development of genome and epigenome editing tools and in the engineering of designer cells with programmable genetic circuits is expanding approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease and to establish personalized theranostic strategies for next-generation medicines. This review summarizes the development of these enabling technologies and their application to transforming mammalian synthetic biology into a distinct field in research and medicine.
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.
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
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.
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
Cheng, Allen A; Lu, Timothy K
Over the past decade, synthetic biology has emerged as an engineering discipline for biological systems. Compared with other substrates, biology poses a unique set of engineering challenges resulting from an incomplete understanding of natural biological systems and tools for manipulating them. To address these challenges, synthetic biology is advancing from developing proof-of-concept designs to focusing on core platforms for rational and high-throughput biological engineering. These platforms span the entire biological design cycle, including DNA construction, parts libraries, computational design tools, and interfaces for manipulating and probing synthetic circuits. The development of these enabling technologies requires an engineering mindset to be applied to biology, with an emphasis on generalizable techniques in addition to application-specific designs. This review aims to discuss the progress and challenges in synthetic biology and to illustrate areas where synthetic biology may impact biomedical engineering and human health.
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.
Liu, Yi; Kim, Do Soon; Jewett, Michael C
The translation system is the cell's factory for protein biosynthesis, stitching together hundreds to thousands of amino acids into proteins, which are required for the structure, function, and regulation of living systems. The extraordinary synthetic capability of this system, which includes the ribosome and its associated factors required for polymerization, has driven extensive efforts to harness it for societal use in areas as diverse as energy, materials, and medicine. A powerful example is recombinant protein production, which has impacted the lives of patients through the synthesis of biopharmaceuticals such as insulin. In nature, however, only limited sets of monomers are utilized, thereby resulting in limited sets of biopolymers (i.e., proteins). Expanding nature's repertoire of ribosomal monomers could yield new classes of enzymes, therapeutics, materials, and chemicals with diverse, genetically encoded chemistry. Here, we discuss recent progress towards engineering ribosomes both in vivo and in vitro. These fundamental and technical breakthroughs open doors for advanced applications in biotechnology and synthetic biology. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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. PMID:25022769
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.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration — The work utilized synthetic biology to create sustainable food production processes by developing technology to efficiently convert inedible crop waste to...
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...... computational approaches, about the relation between living and artificial systems, and about the implications of interdisciplinary research for science and society. The entry can be openly accessed at the webpage of the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/systems-synthetic-biology/...... 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...
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.
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".
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. © 2015 The Authors.
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
Gong, Fuyu; Cai, Zhen; Li, Yin
Recycling of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) into fuels and chemicals is a potential approach to reduce CO 2 emission and fossil-fuel consumption. Autotrophic microbes can utilize energy from light, hydrogen, or sulfur to assimilate atmospheric CO 2 into organic compounds at ambient temperature and pressure. This provides a feasible way for biological production of fuels and chemicals from CO 2 under normal conditions. Recently great progress has been made in this research area, and dozens of CO 2 -derived fuels and chemicals have been reported to be synthesized by autotrophic microbes. This is accompanied by investigations into natural CO 2 -fixation pathways and the rapid development of new technologies in synthetic biology. This review first summarizes the six natural CO 2 -fixation pathways reported to date, followed by an overview of recent progress in the design and engineering of CO 2 -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 CO 2 .
Frazar, Sarah L.; Hund, Gretchen E.; Bonheyo, George T.; Diggans, James; Bartholomew, Rachel A.; Gehrig, Lindsey; Greaves, Mark
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.
Heidari, Raheleh; Shaw, David Martin; Elger, Bernice Simone
Emergence of novel genome engineering technologies such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) has refocused attention on unresolved ethical complications of synthetic biology. Biosecurity concerns, deontological issues and human right aspects of genome editing have
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.
Mattern, Derek J.; Valiante, Vito; Unkles, Shiela E.; Brakhage, Axel A.
Synthetic biology is an ever-expanding field in science, also encompassing the research area of fungal natural product (NP) discovery and production. Until now, different aspects of synthetic biology have been covered in fungal NP studies from the manipulation of different regulatory elements and heterologous expression of biosynthetic pathways to the engineering of different multidomain biosynthetic enzymes such as polyketide synthases or non-ribosomal peptide synthetases. The following review will cover some of the exemplary studies of synthetic biology in filamentous fungi showing the capacity of these eukaryotes to be used as model organisms in the field. From the vast array of different NPs produced to the ease for genetic manipulation, filamentous fungi have proven to be an invaluable source for the further development of synthetic biology tools. PMID:26284053
Frazar, Sarah L; Hund, Gretchen E; Bonheyo, George T; Diggans, James; Bartholomew, Rachel A; Gehrig, Lindsey; Greaves, Mark
Several recent articles have described risks posed by synthetic biology and spurred vigorous discussion in the scientific, commercial, and government communities about how to best detect, prevent, regulate, and respond to these risks. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's (PNNL) deep experience working with dual-use technologies for the nuclear industry has shown that analysis of supply chains can reveal security vulnerabilities and ways to mitigate security risk without hindering beneficial research and commerce. In this article, a team of experts in synthetic biology, data analytics, and national security describe the overall supply chain surrounding synthetic biology to illustrate new insights about the effectiveness of current regulations, the possible need for different screening approaches, and new technical solutions that could help identify or mitigate risks in the synthetic biology supply chain.
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.
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.
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. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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. PMID:25808341
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.
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.
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. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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...
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...
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. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Arpino, James A. J.; Hancock, Edward J.; Anderson, James; Barahona, Mauricio; Stan, Guy-Bart V.; Polizzi, Karen
Synthetic Biology is the ‘Engineering of Biology’ – it aims to use a forward-engineering design cycle based on specifications, modelling, analysis, experimental implementation, testing and validation to modify natural or design new, synthetic biology systems so that they behave in a predictable fashion. Motivated by the need for truly plug-and-play synthetic biological components, we present a comprehensive review of ways in which the various parts of a biological system can be modified systematically. In particular, we review the list of ‘dials’ that are available to the designer and discuss how they can be modelled, tuned and implemented. The dials are categorized according to whether they operate at the global, transcriptional, translational or post-translational level and the resolution that they operate at. We end this review with a discussion on the relative advantages and disadvantages of some dials over others. PMID:23704788
Chao, Ran; Yuan, YongBo; Zhao, HuiMin
Synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary field that takes top-down approaches to understand and engineer biological systems through design-build-test cycles. A number of advances in this relatively young field have greatly accelerated such engineering cycles. Specifically, various innovative tools were developed for in silico biosystems design, DNA de novo synthesis and assembly, construct verification, as well as metabolite analysis, which have laid a solid foundation for building biological foundries for rapid prototyping of improved or novel biosystems. This review summarizes the state-of-the-art technologies for synthetic biology and discusses the challenges to establish such biological foundries.
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. © 2016 The Author(s).
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. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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. PMID:28620039
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).
The central theme of the workshop is recounted and the views of the authors are summarized. Areas of broad agreement or disagreement, unifying principles, and research needs are identified. Authors' views are consolidated into concepts that have practical utility for the scientist making impact assessments. The need for decision-makers and managers to be cognizant of the recommendations made herein is discussed. Finally, bringing together the diverse views of the workshop participants, a conceptual definition of biological significance is synthesized
Renda, Brian A.; Hammerling, Michael J.
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. PMID:24556867
Wu, Chia-Yung; Rupp, Levi J; Roybal, Kole T; Lim, Wendell A
There is rapidly growing interest in learning how to engineer immune cells, such as T lymphocytes, because of the potential of these engineered cells to be used for therapeutic applications such as the recognition and killing of cancer cells. At the same time, our knowhow and capability to logically engineer cellular behavior is growing rapidly with the development of synthetic biology. Here we describe how synthetic biology approaches are being used to rationally alter the behavior of T cells to optimize them for therapeutic functions. We also describe future developments that will be important in order to construct safe and precise T cell therapeutics. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
Rita Costa, Ana; Milho, Catarina; Azeredo, Joana; Pires, Diana Priscila
Recent advances in the synthetic biology field have enabled the development of new molecular biology techniques used to build specialized bacteriophages with new functionalities. Bacteriophages have been engineered towards a wide range of applications including pathogen control and detection, targeted drug delivery, or even assembly of new materials.In this chapter, two strategies that have been successfully used to genetically engineer bacteriophage genomes are addressed: a yeast-based platform and bacteriophage recombineering of electroporated DNA.
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).
MacDonald, I Cody; Deans, Tara L
Advances in synthetic biology have enabled the engineering of cells with genetic circuits in order to program cells with new biological behavior, dynamic gene expression, and logic control. This cellular engineering progression offers an array of living sensors that can discriminate between cell states, produce a regulated dose of therapeutic biomolecules, and function in various delivery platforms. In this review, we highlight and summarize the tools and applications in bacterial and mammalian synthetic biology. The examples detailed in this review provide insight to further understand genetic circuits, how they are used to program cells with novel functions, and current methods to reliably interface this technology in vivo; thus paving the way for the design of promising novel therapeutic applications. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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.
Mol, Milsee; Kabra, Ritika; Singh, Shailza
Whole genome sequencing projects running in various laboratories around the world has generated immense data. A systematic phylogenetic analysis of this data shows that genome complexity goes on decreasing as it evolves, due to its modular nature. This modularity can be harnessed to minimize the genome further to reduce it with the bare minimum essential genes. A reduced modular genome, can fuel progress in the area of synthetic biology by providing a ready to use plug and play chassis. Advances in gene editing technology such as the use of tailor made synthetic transcription factors will further enhance the availability of synthetic devices to be applied in the fields of environment, agriculture and health. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Kim, Hyun Ju; Jeong, Haeyoung; Lee, Sang Jun
Using recombinant DNA technology, various whole-cell biosensors have been developed for detection of environmental pollutants, including heavy metal ions. Whole-cell biosensors have several advantages: easy and inexpensive cultivation, multiple assays, and no requirement of any special techniques for analysis. In the era of synthetic biology, cutting-edge DNA sequencing and gene synthesis technologies have accelerated the development of cell-based biosensors. Here, we summarize current technological advances in whole-cell heavy metal biosensors, including the synthetic biological components (bioparts), sensing and reporter modules, genetic circuits, and chassis cells. We discuss several opportunities for improvement of synthetic cell-based biosensors. First, new functional modules must be discovered in genome databases, and this knowledge must be used to upgrade specific bioparts through molecular engineering. Second, modules must be assembled into functional biosystems in chassis cells. Third, heterogeneity of individual cells in the microbial population must be eliminated. In the perspectives, the development of whole-cell biosensors is also discussed in the aspects of cultivation methods and synthetic cells.
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.
This article analyzes the ethics of synthetic biology (synbio) from a consequentialist perspective, examining potential effects on food and agriculture, and on medicine, fuel, and the advancement of science. The issues of biosafety and biosecurity are also examined. A consequentialist analysis offers an essential road map to policymakers and regulators as to how to deal with synbio. Additionally, the article discusses the limitations of consequentialism as a tool for analysing synbioethics. Is it possible to predict, with any degree of plausibility, what the consequences of synthetic biology will be in 50 years, or in 100, or in 500? Synbio may take humanity to a place of radical departure from what is known or knowable.
Halim, Ahmad Sukari; Khoo, Teng Lye; Mohd Yussof, Shah Jumaat
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.
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.
Velazquez, Jeremy J; Su, Emily; Cahan, Patrick; Ebrahimkhani, Mo R
Mammalian tissue development is an intricate, spatiotemporal process of self-organization that emerges from gene regulatory networks of differentiating stem cells. A major goal in stem cell biology is to gain a sufficient understanding of gene regulatory networks and cell-cell interactions to enable the reliable and robust engineering of morphogenesis. Here, we review advances in synthetic biology, single cell genomics, and multiscale modeling, which, when synthesized, provide a framework to achieve the ambitious goal of programming morphogenesis in complex tissues and organoids. Copyright © 2017 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 production pathways to a wide variety of chemicals generated by microorganisms. The selection and enhancement of microbiological strains through the practice of strain engineering enables targets of design, construction, and optimization. This news column aspires to cover recent literature relating to the development and understanding of clean technology.
Zahid, N Idayu; Conn, Charlotte E; Brooks, Nicholas J; Ahmad, Noraini; Seddon, John M; Hashim, Rauzah
Synthetic branched-chain glycolipids are suitable as model systems in understanding biological cell membranes, particularly because certain natural lipids possess chain branching. Herein, four branched-chain glycopyranosides, namely, 2-hexyl-decyl-α-D-glucopyranoside (α-Glc-OC10C6), 2-hexyl-decyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (β-Glc-OC10C6), 2-hexyl-decyl-α-D-galactopyranoside (α-Gal-OC10C6), and 2-hexyl-decyl-β-D-galactopyranoside (β-Gal-OC10C6), with a total alkyl chain length of 16 carbon atoms have been synthesized, and their phase behavior has been studied. The partial binary phase diagrams of these nonionic surfactants in water were investigated by optical polarizing microscopy (OPM) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The introduction of chain branching in the hydrocarbon chain region is shown to result in the formation of inverse structures such as inverse hexagonal and inverse bicontinuous cubic phases. A comparison of the four compounds showed that they exhibited different polymorphism, especially in the thermotropic state, as a result of contributions from anomeric and epimeric effects according to their stereochemistry. The neat α-Glc-OC10C6 compound exhibited a lamellar (Lα) phase whereas dry α-Gal-OC10C6 formed an inverse bicontinuous cubic Ia3d (QII(G)) phase. Both β-anomers of glucoside and galactoside adopted the inverse hexagonal phase (HII) in the dry state. Generally, in the presence of water, all four glycolipids formed inverse bicontinuous cubic Ia3d (QII(G)) and Pn3m (QII(D)) phases over wide temperature and concentration ranges. The formation of inverse nonlamellar phases by these Guerbet branched-chain glycosides confirms their potential as materials for novel biotechnological applications such as drug delivery and crystallization of membrane proteins.
... DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Request for Comments on Synthetic Biology AGENCY... Bioethical Issues is requesting public comment on the emerging science of synthetic biology, including its... Commission has begun an inquiry into the emerging science of synthetic biology. The President asked the...
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.
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. PMID:26673570
Cirigliano, Angela; Cenciarelli, Orlando; Malizia, Andrea; Bellecci, Carlo; Gaudio, Pasquale; Lioj, Michele; Rinaldi, Teresa
In recent years, the publication of the studies on the transmissibility in mammals of the H5N1 influenza virus and synthetic genomes has triggered heated and concerned debate within the community of scientists on biological dual-use research; these papers have raised the awareness that, in some cases, fundamental research could be directed to harmful experiments, with the purpose of developing a weapon that could be used by a bioterrorist. Here is presented an overview regarding the dual-use concept and its related international agreements which underlines the work of the Australia Group (AG) Export Control Regime. It is hoped that the principles and activities of the AG, that focuses on export control of chemical and biological dual-use materials, will spread and become well known to academic researchers in different countries, as they exchange biological materials (i.e. plasmids, strains, antibodies, nucleic acids) and scientific papers. To this extent, and with the aim of drawing the attention of the scientific community that works with yeast to the so called Dual-Use Research of Concern, this article reports case studies on biological dual-use research and discusses a synthetic biology applied to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, namely the construction of the first eukaryotic synthetic chromosome of yeast and the use of yeast cells as a factory to produce opiates. Since this organism is considered harmless and is not included in any list of biological agents, yeast researchers should take simple actions in the future to avoid the sharing of strains and advanced technology with suspicious individuals.
Martella, Andrea; Pollard, Steven M; Dai, Junbiao; Cai, Yizhi
The enabling technologies of synthetic biology are opening up new opportunities for engineering and enhancement of mammalian cells. This will stimulate diverse applications in many life science sectors such as regenerative medicine, development of biosensing cell lines, therapeutic protein production, and generation of new synthetic genetic regulatory circuits. Harnessing the full potential of these new engineering-based approaches requires the design and assembly of large DNA constructs-potentially up to chromosome scale-and the effective delivery of these large DNA payloads to the host cell. Random integration of large transgenes, encoding therapeutic proteins or genetic circuits into host chromosomes, has several drawbacks such as risks of insertional mutagenesis, lack of control over transgene copy-number and position-specific effects; these can compromise the intended functioning of genetic circuits. The development of a system orthogonal to the endogenous genome is therefore beneficial. Mammalian artificial chromosomes (MACs) are functional, add-on chromosomal elements, which behave as normal chromosomes-being replicating and portioned to daughter cells at each cell division. They are deployed as useful gene expression vectors as they remain independent from the host genome. MACs are maintained as a single-copy and can accommodate multiple gene expression cassettes of, in theory, unlimited DNA size (MACs up to 10 megabases have been constructed). MACs therefore enabled control over ectopic gene expression and represent an excellent platform to rapidly prototype and characterize novel synthetic gene circuits without recourse to engineering the host genome. This review describes the obstacles synthetic biologists face when working with mammalian systems and how the development of improved MACs can overcome these-particularly given the spectacular advances in DNA synthesis and assembly that are fuelling this research area.
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...
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.
Putrik, Polina; Ramiro, Sofia; Kvien, Tore K
We investigated access to biologic and synthetic disease modifying drugs (bDMARDs and sDMARDs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) across Europe.......We investigated access to biologic and synthetic disease modifying drugs (bDMARDs and sDMARDs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) across Europe....
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.
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. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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.
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 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...
Bartley, Bryan A; Kim, Kyung; Medley, J Kyle; Sauro, Herbert M
Synthetic biology was founded as a biophysical discipline that sought explanations for the origins of life from chemical and physical first principles. Modern synthetic biology has been reinvented as an engineering discipline to design new organisms as well as to better understand fundamental biological mechanisms. However, success is still largely limited to the laboratory and transformative applications of synthetic biology are still in their infancy. Here, we review six principles of living systems and how they compare and contrast with engineered systems. We cite specific examples from the synthetic biology literature that illustrate these principles and speculate on their implications for further study. To fully realize the promise of synthetic biology, we must be aware of life's unique properties. Copyright © 2017 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
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. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Modern biotechnology has moved forward by the introduction of the synthetic biology technique. By using synthetic biology, it is possible to construct mice genes in the laboratory and replace the need for the genes to be split out from the original animal. The purpose of this paper is to examine how the public in the Klang ...
Heidari, Raheleh; Shaw, David Martin; Elger, Bernice Simone
Emergence of novel genome engineering technologies such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) has refocused attention on unresolved ethical complications of synthetic biology. Biosecurity concerns, deontological issues and human right aspects of genome editing have been the subject of in-depth debate; however, a lack of transparent regulatory guidelines, outdated governance codes, inefficient time-consuming clinical trial pathways and frequent misunderstanding of the scientific potential of cutting-edge technologies have created substantial obstacles to translational research in this area. While a precautionary principle should be applied at all stages of genome engineering research, the stigma of germline editing, synthesis of new life forms and unrealistic presentation of current technologies should not arrest the transition of new therapeutic, diagnostic or preventive tools from research to clinic. We provide a brief review on the present regulation of CRISPR and discuss the translational aspect of genome engineering research and patient autonomy with respect to the "right to try" potential novel non-germline gene therapies.
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."
Cserer, Amelie; Seiringer, Alexandra
This article is concerned with the representation of Synthetic Biology in the media and by biotechnology experts. An analysis was made of German-language media articles published between 2004 and 2008, and interviews with biotechnology-experts at the Synthetic Biology conference SB 3.0 in Zurich 2007. The results have been reflected in terms of the definition of Synthetic Biology, applications of Synthetic Biology and the perspectives of opportunities and risks. In the media, Synthetic Biology is represented as a new scientific field of biology with an engineering-like thinking, while the scientists interviewed mostly define Synthetic Biology as contrary to nature and the natural system. Media articles present Synthetic Biology broadly with positive potential and inform the publics less about the potential risks than about the benefits of Synthetic Biology. In contrast, the experts interviewed reflect more on the risks than the opportunities of Synthetic Biology. Both used metaphors to describe Synthetic Biology and its aspects.
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. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.. All rights reserved.
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.
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. Copyright © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Full Text Available 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.
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.
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...
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
) 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......Defenders of synthetic biology commonly make reference to the fact that established technologies, such as domestication or selective breeding, share some of the features of synthetic biology that critics argue make it ethically problematic. In this chapter, I reconstruct such references...... as instances of a type of argument which I dub the Continuity Argument. Roughly, the Continuity Argument seeks to show that if we are not disposed to reject the established technology, then features that this technology share with synthetic biology cannot provide reasons to find it ethically problematic. I...
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...
Gronvall, Gigi Kwik
This article describes what may be done by scientists and by the biotechnology industry, generally, to address the safety and security challenges in synthetic biology. Given the technical expertise requirements for developing sound policy options, as well as the importance of these issues to the future of the industry, scientists who work in synthetic biology should be informed about these challenges and get involved in shaping policies relevant to the field.
Flores Bueso, Yensi; Tangney, Mark
Synthetic biology is revolutionising the biotech industry and is increasingly applied in previously unthought-of markets. Here, we discuss the importance of this industry to the bioeconomy and two of its key factors: the synthetic biology approach to research and development (R&D), and the unique nature of the carefully designed, stakeholder-inclusive, community-directed evolution of the field. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Dehli, Tore; Solem, Christian; Jensen, Peter Ruhdal
for accomplishing such altered gene expression levels are discussed here along with examples of their use, and ideas for new tools are described. The road ahead looks very promising for synthetic and systems biologists as tools to achieve just about anything in terms of tuning and timing multiple gene expression...
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
Reeve, Benjamin; Hargest, Thomas [Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, Imperial College London, London (United Kingdom); Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London (United Kingdom); Gilbert, Charlie [Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, Imperial College London, London (United Kingdom); Ellis, Tom, E-mail: email@example.com [Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, Imperial College London, London (United Kingdom); Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London (United Kingdom)
In synthetic biology, precise control over protein expression is required in order to construct functional biological systems. A core principle of the synthetic biology approach is a model-guided design and based on the biological understanding of the process, models of prokaryotic protein production have been described. Translation initiation rate is a rate-limiting step in protein production from mRNA and is dependent on the sequence of the 5′-untranslated region and the start of the coding sequence. Translation rate calculators are programs that estimate protein translation rates based on the sequence of these regions of an mRNA, and as protein expression is proportional to the rate of translation initiation, such calculators have been shown to give good approximations of protein expression levels. In this review, three currently available translation rate calculators developed for synthetic biology are considered, with limitations and possible future progress discussed.
Reeve, Benjamin; Hargest, Thomas; Gilbert, Charlie; Ellis, Tom
In synthetic biology, precise control over protein expression is required in order to construct functional biological systems. A core principle of the synthetic biology approach is a model-guided design and based on the biological understanding of the process, models of prokaryotic protein production have been described. Translation initiation rate is a rate-limiting step in protein production from mRNA and is dependent on the sequence of the 5′-untranslated region and the start of the coding sequence. Translation rate calculators are programs that estimate protein translation rates based on the sequence of these regions of an mRNA, and as protein expression is proportional to the rate of translation initiation, such calculators have been shown to give good approximations of protein expression levels. In this review, three currently available translation rate calculators developed for synthetic biology are considered, with limitations and possible future progress discussed.
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.
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.
Tsai, Ching-Sung; Kwak, Suryang; Turner, Timothy L; Jin, Yong-Su
Yeasts are efficient biofuel producers with numerous advantages outcompeting bacterial counterparts. While most synthetic biology tools have been developed and customized for bacteria especially for Escherichia coli, yeast synthetic biological tools have been exploited for improving yeast to produce fuels and chemicals from renewable biomass. Here we review the current status of synthetic biological tools and their applications for biofuel production, focusing on the model strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae We describe assembly techniques that have been developed for constructing genes, pathways, and genomes in yeast. Moreover, we discuss synthetic parts for allowing precise control of gene expression at both transcriptional and translational levels. Applications of these synthetic biological approaches have led to identification of effective gene targets that are responsible for desirable traits, such as cellulosic sugar utilization, advanced biofuel production, and enhanced tolerance against toxic products for biofuel production from renewable biomass. Although an array of synthetic biology tools and devices are available, we observed some gaps existing in tool development to achieve industrial utilization. Looking forward, future tool development should focus on industrial cultivation conditions utilizing industrial strains. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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…
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. Copyright © 2017 The Author. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
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.
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
Different applications of synthetic biology are alike in that their possible negative consequences are highly uncertain, potentially catastrophic, and perhaps irreversible; therefore, they are also alike in that public attitudes about them are fertile ground for behavioral economic phenomena. Findings from behavioral economics suggest that people may not respond to such applications according to the normal rules of economic evaluation, by which the value of an outcome is multiplied by the mathematical probability that the outcome will occur. Possibly, then, synthetic biology applications challenge the normative postulates of the standard approach, too. I want to first consider how some of the phenomena described by behavioral economists-and behavioral scientists more broadly-might affect people's perceptions of the uncertainties associated with synthetic biology. My analysis will be far from complete, however, because behavioral economics is essentially the study of human behavior, and thus its reach is potentially vast and its development longstanding and ongoing. Nonetheless, I hope to give an indicative perspective on how some aspects of behavioral economics might affect the assessment and perceived acceptability of synthetic biology. I will then consider the issue of agency. Should policy-makers respect people's reactions to synthetic biology when those reactions are known to be driven by behavioral economic phenomena rather than following the normative postulates of rational choice theory? Or should policy-makers dismiss these reactions as inherently biased? I will argue that the normative force of these human reactions (probably) depends on phenomenon and context. © 2018 The Hastings Center.
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.
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.
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.
Seghal Kiran, G; Ramasamy, Pasiyappazham; Sekar, Sivasankari; Ramu, Meenatchi; Hassan, Saqib; Ninawe, A S; Selvin, Joseph
The discovery of genes responsible for the production of bioactive metabolites via metabolic pathways combined with the advances in synthetic biology tools, has allowed the establishment of numerous microbial cell factories, for instance the yeast cell factories, for the manufacture of highly useful metabolites from renewable biomass. Genome mining and metagenomics are two platforms provide base-line data for reconstruction of genomes and metabolomes which is based in the development of synthetic/semi-synthetic genomes for marine natural products discovery. Engineered biofilms are being innovated on synthetic biology platform using genetic circuits and cell signalling systems as represillators controlling biofilm formation. Recombineering is a process of homologous recombination mediated genetic engineering, includes insertion, deletion or modification of any sequence specifically. Although this discipline considered new to the scientific domain, this field has now developed as promising endeavor on the accomplishment of sustainable exploitation of marine natural products. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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).
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
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).
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.
Full Text Available The general central dogma frames the emergent properties of life, which make biology both necessary and difficult to engineer. In a process engineering paradigm, each biological process stream and process unit is heavily influenced by regulatory interactions and interactions with the surrounding environment. Synthetic biology is developing the tools and methods that will increase control over these interactions, eventually resulting in an integrative synthetic biology that will allow ground-up cellular optimization. In this review, we attempt to contextualize the areas of synthetic biology into three tiers: (1 the process units and associated streams of the central dogma, (2 the intrinsic regulatory mechanisms, and (3 the extrinsic physical and chemical environment. Efforts at each of these three tiers attempt to control cellular systems and take advantage of emerging tools and approaches. Ultimately, it will be possible to integrate these approaches and realize the vision of integrative synthetic biology when cells are completely rewired for biotechnological goals. This review will highlight progress towards this goal as well as areas requiring further research.
Young, Eric; Alper, Hal
The general central dogma frames the emergent properties of life, which make biology both necessary and difficult to engineer. In a process engineering paradigm, each biological process stream and process unit is heavily influenced by regulatory interactions and interactions with the surrounding environment. Synthetic biology is developing the tools and methods that will increase control over these interactions, eventually resulting in an integrative synthetic biology that will allow ground-up cellular optimization. In this review, we attempt to contextualize the areas of synthetic biology into three tiers: (1) the process units and associated streams of the central dogma, (2) the intrinsic regulatory mechanisms, and (3) the extrinsic physical and chemical environment. Efforts at each of these three tiers attempt to control cellular systems and take advantage of emerging tools and approaches. Ultimately, it will be possible to integrate these approaches and realize the vision of integrative synthetic biology when cells are completely rewired for biotechnological goals. This review will highlight progress towards this goal as well as areas requiring further research.
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 t...
Madsen, Curtis; Myers, Chris; Roehner, Nicholas; Winstead, Chris; Zhang, Zhen
This chapter describes new analysis and verification techniques for synthetic genetic circuits. In particular, it applies stochastic model checking techniques to models of genetic circuits in order to ensure that they behave correctly and are as robust as possible for a variety of different inputs and parameter settings. In addition to stochastic model checking, this chapter proposes new variants to the incremental stochastic simulation algorithm (iSSA) that are capable of presenting a researcher with a simulation trace of the typical behavior of the system. Before the development of this algorithm, discerning this information was extremely error-prone as it involved performing many simulations and attempting to wade through the massive amounts of data. This algorithm greatly aids researchers in designing genetic circuits as it efficiently shows the researcher the most likely behavior of the circuit. Both the iSSA and stochastic model checking can be used in concert to give a researcher the likelihood that the system exhibits its most typical behavior, as well as, non-typical behaviors. This methodology is applied to several genetic circuits leading to new understanding of the effects of various parameters on the behavior of these circuits.
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).
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. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
d' Espaux, L; Mendez-Perez, D; Li, R; Keasling, JD
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.
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 gou...
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.
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.
Sharma, Sunil V; Tong, Xiaoxue; Pubill-Ulldemolins, Cristina; Cartmell, Christopher; Bogosyan, Emma J A; Rackham, Emma J; Marelli, Enrico; Hamed, Refaat B; Goss, Rebecca J M
Marrying synthetic biology with synthetic chemistry provides a powerful approach toward natural product diversification, combining the best of both worlds: expediency and synthetic capability of biogenic pathways and chemical diversity enabled by organic synthesis. Biosynthetic pathway engineering can be employed to insert a chemically orthogonal tag into a complex natural scaffold affording the possibility of site-selective modification without employing protecting group strategies. Here we show that, by installing a sufficiently reactive handle (e.g., a C-Br bond) and developing compatible mild aqueous chemistries, synchronous biosynthesis of the tagged metabolite and its subsequent chemical modification in living culture can be achieved. This approach can potentially enable many new applications: for example, assay of directed evolution of enzymes catalyzing halo-metabolite biosynthesis in living cells or generating and following the fate of tagged metabolites and biomolecules in living systems. We report synthetic biological access to new-to-nature bromo-metabolites and the concomitant biorthogonal cross-coupling of halo-metabolites in living cultures.Coupling synthetic biology and chemical reactions in cells is a challenging task. The authors engineer bacteria capable of generating bromo-metabolites, develop a mild Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling reaction compatible with cell growth and carry out the cross-coupling chemistry in live cell cultures.
King, Jason R; Edgar, Steven; Qiao, Kangjian; Stephanopoulos, Gregory
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.
Chandran, Deepak; Bergmann, Frank T; Sauro, Herbert M
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 . 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 and analyzed computationally. TinkerCell can readily
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
Chandran, Deepak; Bergmann, Frank T; Sauro, Herbert M
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. 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. 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 and analyzed computationally. TinkerCell can readily accept
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, P...
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
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.
Cox, Robert Sidney
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 2.2.0 of SBOL that builds upon version 2.1.0 published in last year\\'s JIB special issue. In particular, SBOL 2.2.0 includes improved description and validation rules for genetic design provenance, an extension to support combinatorial genetic designs, a new class to add non-SBOL data as attachments, a new class for genetic design implementations, and a description of a methodology to describe the entire design-build-test-learn cycle within the SBOL data model.
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
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.
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.
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.
Nemhauser, Jennifer L; Torii, Keiko U
Molecular genetic studies of model plants in the past few decades have identified many key genes and pathways controlling development, metabolism and environmental responses. Recent technological and informatics advances have led to unprecedented volumes of data that may uncover underlying principles of plants as biological systems. The newly emerged discipline of synthetic biology and related molecular engineering approaches is built on this strong foundation. Today, plant regulatory pathways can be reconstituted in heterologous organisms to identify and manipulate parameters influencing signalling outputs. Moreover, regulatory circuits that include receptors, ligands, signal transduction components, epigenetic machinery and molecular motors can be engineered and introduced into plants to create novel traits in a predictive manner. Here, we provide a brief history of plant synthetic biology and significant recent examples of this approach, focusing on how knowledge generated by the reference plant Arabidopsis thaliana has contributed to the rapid rise of this new discipline, and discuss potential future directions.
Pagel, Mareen; Beck-Sickinger, Annette G
A controlled interaction of materials with their surrounding biological environment is of great interest in many fields. Multifunctional coatings aim to provide simultaneous modulation of several biological signals. They can consist of various combinations of bioactive, and bioinert components as well as of reporter molecules to improve cell-material contacts, prevent infections or to analyze biochemical events on the surface. However, specific immobilization and particular assembly of various active molecules are challenging. Herein, an overview of multifunctional coatings for biomaterials is given, focusing on synthetic strategies and the biological benefits by displaying several motifs.
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.
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.
Perez, Jessica G; Stark, Jessica C; Jewett, Michael C
Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) technologies have enabled inexpensive and rapid recombinant protein expression. Numerous highly active CFPS platforms are now available and have recently been used for synthetic biology applications. In this review, we focus on the ability of CFPS to expand our understanding of biological systems and its applications in the synthetic biology field. First, we outline a variety of CFPS platforms that provide alternative and complementary methods for expressing proteins from different organisms, compared with in vivo approaches. Next, we review the types of proteins, protein complexes, and protein modifications that have been achieved using CFPS systems. Finally, we introduce recent work on genetic networks in cell-free systems and the use of cell-free systems for rapid prototyping of in vivo networks. Given the flexibility of cell-free systems, CFPS holds promise to be a powerful tool for synthetic biology as well as a protein production technology in years to come. Copyright © 2016 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; all rights reserved.
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. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
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 centers and related infrastructure (synthesis/software/foundries) meet to discuss technology, standards, and education. SEED2015 will be the second in an annual series of meeting held to bring researchers from industry and academia in the area of Synthetic Biology. The first SEED conference was highly successful, attracting 285 attendees with varying backgrounds from academia, industry and government. The SEED series provides leadership in the development of the field of synthetic biology and serves to broaden the participants in the field by appealing to broad sectors in industry and providing a means for young investigators and those outside of the field to participate. Further, the series closely integrates with groups such as the SBCC to provide a means by which the synthetic biology community can communicate with policy makers. Further, we will pursue making the meeting the center for the exchange of educational materials as centers for synthetic biology emerge globally. Proceedings will be published each year in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology. After each SEED meeting, surveys are distributed to assess the success of the conference and to help guide changes year-to-year. The diverse application areas further extend the expertise needed from people in areas such as plant biology, agriculture and soil science, environmental science, medicine, and the chemical industry. These areas could have a widespread impact on society in a number of ways. For example, the CRISPR/Cas9 system that serves to immunize bacteria from phage has provided the fundamental chemistry that is used to edit the genomes of diverse organisms, including human stem cells, crop plants, and livestock animals.
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. © 2017 médecine/sciences – Inserm.
Jensen, Michael Krogh; Keasling, Jay
The last 20 years of metabolic engineering has enabled bio-based production of fuels and chemicals from renewable carbon sources using cost-effective bioprocesses. Much of this work has been accomplished using engineered microorganisms that act as chemical factories. Although the time required...... 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...... 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...
Hollywood, Katherine A; Schmidt, Kamila; Takano, Eriko; Breitling, Rainer
Metabolomics plays an increasingly central role within the Design-Build-Test cycle of synthetic biology, in particular in applications targeting the discovery, diversification and optimised production of a wide range of natural products. For example, improved methods for the online monitoring of chemical reactions accelerate data generation to be compatible with the rapid iterations and increasing library sizes of automated synthetic biology pipelines. Combinations of label-free metabolic profiling and 13 C-based flux analysis lead to increased resolution in the identification of metabolic bottlenecks affecting product yield in engineered microbes. And molecular networking strategies drastically increase our ability to identify and characterise novel chemically complex biomolecules of interest in a diverse range of samples. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
, 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...... of these commercially important high value bioactive compounds are plant derived, and in plants, some of the key enzymes that catalyze the production of these compounds are cytochromes P450 (P450s). This thesis focuses on three subprojects in which we expressed plant metabolic pathways involving P450 enzymes...
In this paper, I examine some important metaphysical lessons that are often presented as derived from two new scientific disciplines: synthetic biology and neuroscience. I analyse four of them: the nature of life, the existence of a soul (the mind-body problem), personhood, and free will. Many caveats are in order, and each 'advance' or each case should be assessed for itself. I conclude that a main lesson can nevertheless be learned: in conjunction with modern science, neuroscience and synthetic biology allow us to enrich old metaphysical debates, to deepen and even renew them. In particular, it becomes less and less plausible to consider life, mind, person, and agency as non-natural or non-physical entities. Copyright © 2015 Académie des sciences. Published by Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
atures between 45 and 70 °C, they may prove to be useful chassis for high temperature operational conditions. This genus is currently used by industry for...many extreme stresses. The bacterial genus Deinococcus is well-known for its resistance to ionizing radiation, however it also shows remarkable...based state machines in living cells. Science 353, aad8559. (2) Elowitz, M. B., and Leibler, S. (2000) A synthetic oscillatory network of transcriptional
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.
Philp, Jim C; Ritchie, Rachael J; Allan, Jacqueline E M
Opinions on what synthetic biology actually is range from a natural extension of genetic engineering to a new manufacturing paradigm. It offers, for the first time in the life sciences, rational design and engineering standardisation. It could address problems across a broad spectrum of human concerns, including energy and food security, and health of growing and aging populations. It also offers great scope for public resistance to its introduction to daily life. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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).
This article explores the ethical issues that have been identified in emerging technologies, from early genetic engineering to synthetic biology. The scientific advances in the field form a continuum, and some ethical considerations can be raised time and again when new developments occur. An underlying concern is the cumulative effect of scientific advances and ensuing technological innovation that can change our understanding of life and humanity.
Cummings, Matthew; Breitling, Rainer; Takano, Eriko
Nature is providing a bountiful pool of valuable secondary metabolites, many of which possess therapeutic properties. However, the discovery of new bioactive secondary metabolites is slowing down, at a time when the rise of multidrug-resistant pathogens and the realization of acute and long-term side effects of widely used drugs lead to an urgent need for new therapeutic agents. Approaches such as synthetic biology are promising to deliver a much-needed boost to secondary metabolite drug development through plug-and-play optimized hosts and refactoring novel or cryptic bacterial gene clusters. Here, we discuss this prospect focusing on one comprehensively studied class of clinically relevant bioactive molecules, the polyketides. Extensive efforts towards optimization and derivatization of compounds via combinatorial biosynthesis and classical engineering have elucidated the modularity, flexibility and promiscuity of polyketide biosynthetic enzymes. Hence, a synthetic biology approach can build upon a solid basis of guidelines and principles, while providing a new perspective towards the discovery and generation of novel and new-to-nature compounds. We discuss the lessons learned from the classical engineering of polyketide synthases and indicate their importance when attempting to engineer biosynthetic pathways using synthetic biology approaches for the introduction of novelty and overexpression of products in a controllable manner. PMID:24372666
The SynBioSecurity argument says that synthetic biology introduces new risks of intentional misuse of synthetic pathogens and that, therefore, there is a need for extra regulations and oversight. This paper provides an analysis of the argument, sets forth a new version of it, and identifies three developments that raise biosecurity risks compared to the situation earlier. The developments include (1) a spread of the required know-how, (2) improved availability of the techniques, instruments and biological parts, and (3) new technical possibilities such as "resurrecting" disappeared pathogens. It is first shown that the general argument from SynBioSecurity needs to be qualified and that many improvements to biosecurity have already been implemented, most notably in the United States. Second, I suggest a new strain of the argument: the situation that most branches of synthetic biology fall under the gene technology regulation in the European Union and that this regulation in its current form does not adequately address SynBioSecurity risks together provide a weighty reason to review and possibly refine the legislation as well as the supervisory practices. Ethically speaking, the rise in the relative risk of bioterrorism brings to the fore new extrinsic issues.
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.
Jensen, Michael K; Keasling, Jay D
The last 20 years of metabolic engineering has enabled bio-based production of fuels and chemicals from renewable carbon sources using cost-effective bioprocesses. Much of this work has been accomplished using engineered microorganisms that act as chemical factories. Although the time required 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 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 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. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com.
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).
Michael D. Engstrom
Full Text Available In synthetic biology, researchers assemble biological components in new ways to produce systems with practical applications. One of these practical applications is control of the flow of genetic information (from nucleic acid to protein, a.k.a. gene regulation. Regulation is critical for optimizing protein (and therefore activity levels and the subsequent levels of metabolites and other cellular properties. The central dogma of molecular biology posits that information flow commences with transcription, and accordingly, regulatory tools targeting transcription have received the most attention in synthetic biology. In this mini-review, we highlight many past successes and summarize the lessons learned in developing tools for controlling transcription. In particular, we focus on engineering studies where promoters and transcription terminators (cis-factors were directly engineered and/or isolated from DNA libraries. We also review several well-characterized transcription regulators (trans-factors, giving examples of how cis- and trans-acting factors have been combined to create digital and analogue switches for regulating transcription in response to various signals. Last, we provide examples of how engineered transcription control systems have been used in metabolic engineering and more complicated genetic circuits. While most of our mini-review focuses on the well-characterized bacterium Escherichia coli, we also provide several examples of the use of transcription control engineering in non-model organisms. Similar approaches have been applied outside the bacterial kingdom indicating that the lessons learned from bacterial studies may be generalized for other organisms.
Engstrom, Michael D; Pfleger, Brian F
In synthetic biology, researchers assemble biological components in new ways to produce systems with practical applications. One of these practical applications is control of the flow of genetic information (from nucleic acid to protein), a.k.a. gene regulation. Regulation is critical for optimizing protein (and therefore activity) levels and the subsequent levels of metabolites and other cellular properties. The central dogma of molecular biology posits that information flow commences with transcription, and accordingly, regulatory tools targeting transcription have received the most attention in synthetic biology. In this mini-review, we highlight many past successes and summarize the lessons learned in developing tools for controlling transcription. In particular, we focus on engineering studies where promoters and transcription terminators ( cis -factors) were directly engineered and/or isolated from DNA libraries. We also review several well-characterized transcription regulators ( trans- factors), giving examples of how cis- and trans -acting factors have been combined to create digital and analogue switches for regulating transcription in response to various signals. Last, we provide examples of how engineered transcription control systems have been used in metabolic engineering and more complicated genetic circuits. While most of our mini-review focuses on the well-characterized bacterium Escherichia coli , we also provide several examples of the use of transcription control engineering in non-model organisms. Similar approaches have been applied outside the bacterial kingdom indicating that the lessons learned from bacterial studies may be generalized for other organisms.
Ding, Yunfeng; Wu, Fan; Tan, Cheemeng
Artificial cells are simple cell-like entities that possess certain properties of natural cells. In general, artificial cells are constructed using three parts: (1) biological membranes that serve as protective barriers, while allowing communication between the cells and the environment; (2) transcription and translation machinery that synthesize proteins based on genetic sequences; and (3) genetic modules that control the dynamics of the whole cell. Artificial cells are minimal and well-defined systems that can be more easily engineered and controlled when compared to natural cells. Artificial cells can be used as biomimetic systems to study and understand natural dynamics of cells with minimal interference from cellular complexity. However, there remain significant gaps between artificial and natural cells. How much information can we encode into artificial cells? What is the minimal number of factors that are necessary to achieve robust functioning of artificial cells? Can artificial cells communicate with their environments efficiently? Can artificial cells replicate, divide or even evolve? Here, we review synthetic biological methods that could shrink the gaps between artificial and natural cells. The closure of these gaps will lead to advancement in synthetic biology, cellular biology and biomedical applications. PMID:25532531
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chakravarti, Deboki; Wong, Wilson W
The adoptive transfer of genetically engineered T cells with cancer-targeting receptors has shown tremendous promise for eradicating tumors in clinical trials. This form of cellular immunotherapy presents a unique opportunity to incorporate advanced systems and synthetic biology approaches to create cancer therapeutics with novel functions. We first review the development of synthetic receptors, switches, and circuits to control the location, duration, and strength of T cell activity against tumors. In addition, we discuss the cellular engineering and genome editing of host cells (or the chassis) to improve the efficacy of cell-based cancer therapeutics, and to reduce the time and cost of manufacturing. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Xu, Peng; Bhan, Namita; Koffas, Mattheos A G
Plant metabolism represents an enormous repository of compounds that are of pharmaceutical and biotechnological importance. Engineering plant metabolism into microbes will provide sustainable solutions to produce pharmaceutical and fuel molecules that could one day replace substantial portions of the current fossil-fuel based economy. Metabolic engineering entails targeted manipulation of biosynthetic pathways to maximize yields of desired products. Recent advances in Systems Biology and the emergence of Synthetic Biology have accelerated our ability to design, construct and optimize cell factories for metabolic engineering applications. Progress in predicting and modeling genome-scale metabolic networks, versatile gene assembly platforms and delicate synthetic pathway optimization strategies has provided us exciting opportunities to exploit the full potential of cell metabolism. In this review, we will discuss how systems and synthetic biology tools can be integrated to create tailor-made cell factories for efficient production of natural products and fuel molecules in microorganisms. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Majumder, Sagardip; Liu, Allen P.
Engineering artificial cells to mimic one or multiple fundamental cell biological functions is an emerging area of synthetic biology. Reconstituting functional modules from biological components in vitro is a challenging yet an important essence of bottom-up synthetic biology. Here we describe the concept of building artificial platelets using bottom-up synthetic biology and the four functional modules that together could enable such an ambitious effort.
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. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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
Chubukov, Victor; Mukhopadhyay, Aindrila; Petzold, Christopher J; Keasling, Jay D; Martín, Héctor García
The combination of synthetic and systems biology is a powerful framework to study fundamental questions in biology and produce chemicals of immediate practical application such as biofuels, polymers, or therapeutics. However, we cannot yet engineer biological systems as easily and precisely as we engineer physical systems. In this review, we describe the path from the choice of target molecule to scaling production up to commercial volumes. We present and explain some of the current challenges and gaps in our knowledge that must be overcome in order to bring our bioengineering capabilities to the level of other engineering disciplines. Challenges start at molecule selection, where a difficult balance between economic potential and biological feasibility must be struck. Pathway design and construction have recently been revolutionized by next-generation sequencing and exponentially improving DNA synthesis capabilities. Although pathway optimization can be significantly aided by enzyme expression characterization through proteomics, choosing optimal relative protein expression levels for maximum production is still the subject of heuristic, non-systematic approaches. Toxic metabolic intermediates and proteins can significantly affect production, and dynamic pathway regulation emerges as a powerful but yet immature tool to prevent it. Host engineering arises as a much needed complement to pathway engineering for high bioproduct yields; and systems biology approaches such as stoichiometric modeling or growth coupling strategies are required. A final, and often underestimated, challenge is the successful scale up of processes to commercial volumes. Sustained efforts in improving reproducibility and predictability are needed for further development of bioengineering.
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.
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). PMID:27903825
Zhu, Linjiang; Zhu, Yan; Zhang, Yanping; Li, Yin
Microbial fermentations and bioconversions play a central role in the production of pharmaceuticals, enzymes and chemicals. To meet the demands of industrial production, it is desirable that microbes maintain a maximized carbon flux towards target metabolites regardless of fluctuations in intracellular or extracellular environments. This requires cellular systems that maintain functional stability and dynamic homeostasis in a given physiological state, or manipulate transitions between different physiological states. Stable maintenance or smooth transition can be achieved through engineering of dynamic controllability, modular and hierarchical organization, or functional redundancy, three key features of biological robustness in a cellular system. This review summarizes how synthetic biology can be used to improve the robustness of industrial microbes. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
Neutron elastic and inelastic scattering measurements have provided many unique insights into structure, and by reviewing progress on synthetics, important differences likely to arise in biological systems are identified and a direction for studies of the latter is suggested. By neutron inelastic scattering it is possible to measure the frequency of thermally excited interatomic and intermolecular vibrations in crystals. With perfect organic and inorganic crystals the technique is now classical and has given great insight into the crystal forces responsible for the observed structures as well as the phase transitions they undergo. The study of polymer crystals immediately presents two problems of disorder: (1) Macroscopic disorder arises because the sample is a mixture of amorphous and crystalline fractions, and it may be acute enough to inhibit growth of a single crystal large enough for neutron studies. (2) Microscopic disorder in the packing of polymer chains in the ''crystalline'' regions is indicated by broadening of Bragg peaks. Both types of disorder problem arise in biological systems. The methods by which they were partially overcome to allow neutron measurements with synthetic polymers are described but first a classical example of the determination of interatomic forces by inelastic neutron scattering is given
Gonzalez-Esquer, C Raul; Newnham, Sarah E; Kerfeld, Cheryl A
Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are megadalton-sized protein assemblies that enclose segments of metabolic pathways within cells. They increase the catalytic efficiency of the encapsulated enzymes while sequestering volatile or toxic intermediates from the bulk cytosol. The first BMCs discovered were the carboxysomes of cyanobacteria. Carboxysomes compartmentalize the enzyme ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO) with carbonic anhydrase. They enhance the carboxylase activity of RuBisCO by increasing the local concentration of CO2 in the vicinity of the enzyme's active site. As a metabolic module for carbon fixation, carboxysomes could be transferred to eukaryotic organisms (e.g. plants) to increase photosynthetic efficiency. Within the scope of synthetic biology, carboxysomes and other BMCs hold even greater potential when considered a source of building blocks for the development of nanoreactors or three-dimensional scaffolds to increase the efficiency of either native or heterologously expressed enzymes. The carboxysome serves as an ideal model system for testing approaches to engineering BMCs because their expression in cyanobacteria provides a sensitive screen for form (appearance of polyhedral bodies) and function (ability to grow on air). We recount recent progress in the re-engineering of the carboxysome shell and core to offer a conceptual framework for the development of BMC-based architectures for applications in plant synthetic biology. © 2016 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Synthetic biology does not create any ethical dilemmas that have not already been raised in the development of practices such as genetic screening, genetic engineering, and other interventions in the evolutionary processes. The issue is, nevertheless, ethically serious. Two different angles are examined: the philosophical legitimacy of human intervention in the shaping of human nature, and the more pragmatic (though by no means less important) question of the risks involved in such a novel line of research. As for the first, the claim made here is that in principle there is no constraint in human intervention in the world, since ultimately the source of any value lies in human interests, welfare, and values. This is an approach that is opposite to Habermas's. As for the practical problem of risk, research in synthetic biology calls for particular caution, since in at least the first stages of a new research or program, there is no social regulation, and society is wholly dependent on the scientist's ethical integrity.
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." Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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. © 2016 The Author(s).
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. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Building circuits and studying their behavior in cells is a major goal of systems and synthetic biology. Synthetic biology enables the precise control of cellular states for systems studies, the discovery of novel parts, control strategies, and interactions for the design of robust synthetic systems. To the best of our knowledge,there are no literature reports for the synthetic circuit construction for protozoan parasites. This paper describes the construction of genetic circuit for the targe...
Schuergers, N; Werlang, C; Ajo-Franklin, C M; Boghossian, A A
The ability to electronically interface living cells with electron accepting scaffolds is crucial for the development of next-generation biophotovoltaic technologies. Although recent studies have focused on engineering synthetic interfaces that can maximize electronic communication between the cell and scaffold, the efficiency of such devices is limited by the low conductivity of the cell membrane. This review provides a materials science perspective on applying a complementary, synthetic biology approach to engineering membrane-electrode interfaces. It focuses on the technical challenges behind the introduction of foreign extracellular electron transfer pathways in bacterial host cells and the past and future efforts to engineer photosynthetic organisms with artificial electron-export capabilities for biophotovoltaic applications. The article highlights advances in engineering protein-based, electron-exporting conduits in a model host organism, E. coli, before reviewing state-of-the-art biophotovoltaic technologies that use both unmodified and bioengineered photosynthetic bacteria with improved electron transport capabilities. A thermodynamic analysis is used to propose an energetically feasible pathway for extracellular electron transport in engineered cyanobacteria and identify metabolic bottlenecks amenable to protein engineering techniques. Based on this analysis, an engineered photosynthetic organism expressing a foreign, protein-based electron conduit yields a maximum theoretical solar conversion efficiency of 6-10% without accounting for additional bioengineering optimizations for light-harvesting.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
Achrai, B; Wagner, H D; Bar-On, B
A number of biological armors, such as turtle shells, consist of a strong exoskeleton covered with a thin keratin coating. The mechanical role upon impact of this keratin coating has surprisingly not been investigated thus far. Low-velocity impact tests on the turtle shell reveal a unique toughening phenomenon attributed to the thin covering keratin layer, the presence of which noticeably improves the fracture energy and shell integrity. Synthetic substrate/coating analogues were subsequently prepared and exhibit an impact behavior similar to the biological ones. The results of the present study may improve our understanding, and even future designs, of impact-tolerant structures. (paper)
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.
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).
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.
Zong, H.; Kotsonis, M.
The performance of a two–electrode plasma synthetic jet actuator (PSJA) is investigated for a wide range of dimensionless actuation frequencies (f*) using high-speed phase-locked Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV) measurements. The jet-induced velocity fields in the
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.
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.
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.
Betten, A.W.; Roelofsen, A.; Broerse, J.E.W.
The emerging field of synthetic biology has the potential to improve global health. For example, synthetic biology could contribute to efforts at vaccine development in a context in which vaccines and immunization have been identified by the international community as being crucial to international
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. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kim, Hyunah; Yoo, Su Jin; Kang, Hyun Ah
The production of recombinant therapeutic proteins is one of the fast-growing areas of molecular medicine and currently plays an important role in treatment of several diseases. Yeasts are unicellular eukaryotic microbial host cells that offer unique advantages in producing biopharmaceutical proteins. Yeasts are capable of robust growth on simple media, readily accommodate genetic modifications, and incorporate typical eukaryotic post-translational modifications. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a traditional baker's yeast that has been used as a major host for the production of biopharmaceuticals; however, several nonconventional yeast species including Hansenula polymorpha, Pichia pastoris, and Yarrowia lipolytica have gained increasing attention as alternative hosts for the industrial production of recombinant proteins. In this review, we address the established and emerging genetic tools and host strains suitable for recombinant protein production in various yeast expression systems, particularly focusing on current efforts toward synthetic biology approaches in developing yeast cell factories for the production of therapeutic recombinant proteins. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
d'Aquino, Anne E; Kim, Do Soon; Jewett, Michael C
The ribosome is the cell's factory for protein synthesis. With protein synthesis rates of up to 20 amino acids per second and at an accuracy of 99.99%, the extraordinary catalytic capacity of the bacterial translation machinery has attracted extensive efforts to engineer, reconstruct, and repurpose it for biochemical studies and novel functions. Despite these efforts, the potential for harnessing the translation apparatus to manufacture bio-based products beyond natural limits remains underexploited, and fundamental constraints on the chemistry that the ribosome's RNA-based active site can carry out are unknown. This review aims to cover the past and present advances in ribosome design and engineering to understand the fundamental biology of the ribosome to facilitate the construction of synthetic manufacturing machines. The prospects for the development of engineered, or designer, ribosomes for novel polymer synthesis are reviewed, future challenges are considered, and promising advances in a variety of applications are discusse Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Volume 9 is June 7, 2018. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
Kowarschik, Kathrin; Hoehenwarter, Wolfgang; Marillonnet, Sylvestre; Trujillo, Marco
Ubiquitination is mediated by an enzymatic cascade that results in the modification of substrate proteins, redefining their fate. This post-translational modification is involved in most cellular processes, yet its analysis faces manifold obstacles due to its complex and ubiquitous nature. Reconstitution of the ubiquitination cascade in bacterial systems circumvents several of these problems and was shown to faithfully recapitulate the process. Here, we present UbiGate - a synthetic biology toolbox, together with an inducible bacterial expression system - to enable the straightforward reconstitution of the ubiquitination cascades of different organisms in Escherichia coli by 'Golden Gate' cloning. This inclusive toolbox uses a hierarchical modular cloning system to assemble complex DNA molecules encoding the multiple genetic elements of the ubiquitination cascade in a predefined order, to generate polycistronic operons for expression. We demonstrate the efficiency of UbiGate in generating a variety of expression elements to reconstitute autoubiquitination by different E3 ligases and the modification of their substrates, as well as its usefulness for dissecting the process in a time- and cost-effective manner. © 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.
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
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.
Fatehi, Leili; Hall, Ralph F
Synthetic biology (SB) is expected to create tremendous opportunities in a wide range of areas, including in foods, therapeutics, and diagnostics subject to regulatory oversight by the United States Food and Drug Administration. At the same time, there is substantial basis for concern about the uncertainties of accurately assessing the human health and environmental risks of such SB products. As such, SB is the latest in a string of emerging technologies that is the subject of calls for new approaches to regulation and oversight that involve "thinking ahead" to anticipate governance challenges upstream of technological development and adopting oversight mechanisms that are both adaptive to new information about risks and reflexive to performance data and feedback on policy outcomes over time. These new approaches constitute a marked departure from the status quo, and their development and implementation will require considerable time, resources, and reallocation of responsibilities. Furthermore, in order to develop an appropriate oversight response, adaptive or otherwise, there is first a need to identify the specific types and natures of applications, uncertainties, and regulatory issues that are likely to pose oversight challenges. This article presents our vision for a Productive Oversight Assessment (POA) approach in which the abilities and deficits of an oversight system are evaluated with the aim of enabling productive decisions (i.e., timely, feasible, effective for achieving desired policy outcomes) about oversight while also building capacity to facilitate broader governance efforts. The value ofPOA is two-fold. First, it will advance the development of a generalizable approach for making productive planning and decision-making about the oversight of any given new technology that presents challenges and uncertainties for any given oversight system whose policy goals are implicated by that technology. Second, this effort can enhance the very processes
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...
Majumder, Arnab; Winder, Joshua S; Wen, Yuxiang; Pauli, Eric M; Belyansky, Igor; Novitsky, Yuri W
Contaminated operative fields pose significant challenges for surgeons performing ventral hernia repair. Although biologic meshes have been utilized increasingly in these fields, recent evidence suggests that synthetic meshes represent a viable option. We analyzed the outcomes of biologic and synthetic mesh utilized in patients undergoing major ventral hernia repair in clean-contaminated/contaminated fields. We conducted a multicenter, retrospective review of patients undergoing open ventral hernia repair in clean-contaminated/contaminated fields using biologic or synthetic mesh. Patient and hernia details were characterized. Primary outcomes included 90-day surgical site event, surgical site infection, and hernia recurrence. A total of 126 patients undergoing major ventral hernia repair in clean-contaminated/contaminated fields (69 biologic and 57 synthetic meshes) were analyzed. Groups were similar in both patient and hernia characteristics. There were 13 (22.8%) surgical site events in the synthetic cohort compared to 29 (42.0%) in the biologic cohort, P = .024. Similarly, surgical site infections were less frequent in the synthetic group, with 7 (12.3%) vs 22 (31.9%), P = .01. With a mean follow-up of 20 months, there were more recurrences in the biologic group: 15 (26.3%) vs 4 (8.9%) in the synthetic group, P = .039. The choice of mesh for clean-contaminated/contaminated ventral hernia repair remains debatable. We demonstrated that using synthetic sublay mesh resulted in a significantly lower wound morbidity and more durable outcomes versus a similar cohort of biologic repairs. This is likely secondary to improved bacterial clearance and faster integration of macroporous synthetics. Overall, our findings not only support suitability of synthetic mesh in contaminated settings but also challenge the purported advantage of biologics in clean-contaminated/contaminated ventral hernia repairs. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Clarke, L J; Kitney, R I
Synthetic biology is capable of delivering new solutions to key challenges spanning the bioeconomy, both nationally and internationally. Recognising this significant potential and the associated need to facilitate its translation and commercialisation the UK government commissioned the production of a national Synthetic Biology Roadmap in 2011, and subsequently provided crucial support to assist its implementation. Critical infrastructural investments have been made, and important strides made towards the development of an effectively connected community of practitioners and interest groups. A number of Synthetic Biology Research Centres, DNA Synthesis Foundries, a Centre for Doctoral Training, and an Innovation Knowledge Centre have been established, creating a nationally distributed and integrated network of complementary facilities and expertise. The UK Synthetic Biology Leadership Council published a UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan in 2016, increasing focus on the processes of translation and commercialisation. Over 50 start-ups, SMEs and larger companies are actively engaged in synthetic biology in the UK, and inward investments are starting to flow. Together these initiatives provide an important foundation for stimulating innovation, actively contributing to international research and development partnerships, and helping deliver useful benefits from synthetic biology in response to local and global needs and challenges.
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.
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
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.
Mehta, Pankaj; Lang, Alex H.; Schwab, David J.
A central goal of synthetic biology is to design sophisticated synthetic cellular circuits that can perform complex computations and information processing tasks in response to specific inputs. The tremendous advances in our ability to understand and manipulate cellular information processing networks raises several fundamental physics questions: How do the molecular components of cellular circuits exploit energy consumption to improve information processing? Can one utilize ideas from thermodynamics to improve the design of synthetic cellular circuits and modules? Here, we summarize recent theoretical work addressing these questions. Energy consumption in cellular circuits serves five basic purposes: (1) increasing specificity, (2) manipulating dynamics, (3) reducing variability, (4) amplifying signal, and (5) erasing memory. We demonstrate these ideas using several simple examples and discuss the implications of these theoretical ideas for the emerging field of synthetic biology. We conclude by discussing how it may be possible to overcome these limitations using "post-translational" synthetic biology that exploits reversible protein modification.
Together these initiatives provide an important foundation for stimulating innovation, actively contributing to international research and development partnerships, and helping deliver useful benefits from synthetic biology in response to local and global needs and challenges.
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.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration — Our goal is to make human missions outside low earth orbit safer and better able to handle the unexpected through the use of synthetic biology as an enabling...
Jennett, Charlene; Iacovides, Ioanna; Skands, Peter; Shoma, Helena; Cox, Anna
We present two new citizen cyberscience projects that are being developed in the research fields of Particle Physics and Synthetic Biology, and discuss several issues to be considered in relation to the gamification of these projects.
Chen, Bor-Sen; Wu, Chih-Hung
Synthetic biology is foreseen to have important applications in biotechnology and medicine, and is expected to contribute significantly to a better understanding of the functioning of complex biological systems. However, the development of synthetic gene networks is still difficult and most newly created gene networks are non-functioning due to intrinsic parameter uncertainties, external disturbances and functional variations of intra- and extra-cellular environments. The design method for a robust synthetic gene network that works properly in a host cell under these intrinsic parameter uncertainties and external disturbances is the most important topic in synthetic biology. In this study, we propose a stochastic model that includes parameter fluctuations and external disturbances to mimic the dynamic behaviors of a synthetic gene network in the host cell. Then, based on this stochastic model, four design specifications are introduced to guarantee that a synthetic gene network can achieve its desired steady state behavior in spite of parameter fluctuations, external disturbances and functional variations in the host cell. We propose a systematic method to select a set of appropriate design parameters for a synthetic gene network that will satisfy these design specifications so that the intrinsic parameter fluctuations can be tolerated, the external disturbances can be efficiently filtered, and most importantly, the desired steady states can be achieved. Thus the synthetic gene network can work properly in a host cell under intrinsic parameter uncertainties, external disturbances and functional variations. Finally, a design procedure for the robust synthetic gene network is developed and a design example is given in silico to confirm the performance of the proposed method. Based on four design specifications, a systematic design procedure is developed for designers to engineer a robust synthetic biology network that can achieve its desired steady state behavior
Full Text Available Abstract Background Synthetic biology is foreseen to have important applications in biotechnology and medicine, and is expected to contribute significantly to a better understanding of the functioning of complex biological systems. However, the development of synthetic gene networks is still difficult and most newly created gene networks are non-functioning due to intrinsic parameter uncertainties, external disturbances and functional variations of intra- and extra-cellular environments. The design method for a robust synthetic gene network that works properly in a host cell under these intrinsic parameter uncertainties and external disturbances is the most important topic in synthetic biology. Results In this study, we propose a stochastic model that includes parameter fluctuations and external disturbances to mimic the dynamic behaviors of a synthetic gene network in the host cell. Then, based on this stochastic model, four design specifications are introduced to guarantee that a synthetic gene network can achieve its desired steady state behavior in spite of parameter fluctuations, external disturbances and functional variations in the host cell. We propose a systematic method to select a set of appropriate design parameters for a synthetic gene network that will satisfy these design specifications so that the intrinsic parameter fluctuations can be tolerated, the external disturbances can be efficiently filtered, and most importantly, the desired steady states can be achieved. Thus the synthetic gene network can work properly in a host cell under intrinsic parameter uncertainties, external disturbances and functional variations. Finally, a design procedure for the robust synthetic gene network is developed and a design example is given in silico to confirm the performance of the proposed method. Conclusion Based on four design specifications, a systematic design procedure is developed for designers to engineer a robust synthetic biology
Soni, Bhavnita; Nimsarkar, Prajakta; Mol, Milsee; Saha, Bhaskar; Singh, Shailza
Systems and synthetic biology in the coming era has the ability to manipulate, stimulate and engineer cells to counteract the pathogenic immune response. The inherent biological complexities associated with the creation of a device allow capitalizing the biotechnological resources either by simply administering a recombinant cytokine or just reprogramming the immune cells. The strategy outlined, adopted and discussed may mark the beginning with promising therapeutics based on the principles of synthetic immunology. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
navigation, collision avoidance, ambiguity SUMMARY Echolocating mammals such as bats , whales and dolphins have been using waveform diversity for...we have adopted. Mammals such as bats use echolocation to perform autonomous navigation (or more strictly orientation), detection and classification...understand how bats exploit echolocation for autonomous navigation and collision avoidance we can then begin to build this into synthetic systems
... of green alga Scendesmus obliquus. The toxicity of surfactants to Scendesmus obliquus are arranged in the order: imported fluid > Synthetic fluid > S+ D > I+A> S+B> I+ C> I+B > I+D > I+D >S+A > I+4. These results prove that, the toxicity of fluids depends on its chemical structure. Egyptian Journal of Biotechnology Vol.
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.
This article describes how DNA barcoding investigations bring biology to life. Biologists recognize the power of DNA barcoding not just to teach biology through connections to the real world but also to immerse students in the exciting process of science. As an investigator in the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University in New…
Canton, Barry; Labno, Anna; Endy, Drew
The ability to quickly and reliably engineer many-component systems from libraries of standard interchangeable parts is one hallmark of modern technologies. Whether the apparent complexity of living systems will permit biological engineers to develop similar capabilities is a pressing research question. We propose to adapt existing frameworks for describing engineered devices to biological objects in order to (i) direct the refinement and use of biological 'parts' and 'devices', (ii) support research on enabling reliable composition of standard biological parts and (iii) facilitate the development of abstraction hierarchies that simplify biological engineering. We use the resulting framework to describe one engineered biological device, a genetically encoded cell-cell communication receiver named BBa_F2620. The description of the receiver is summarized via a 'datasheet' similar to those widely used in engineering. The process of refinement and characterization leading to the BBa_F2620 datasheet may serve as a starting template for producing many standardized genetically encoded objects.
Paolo A. 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.
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,…
mediated transformation of Setaria viridis. Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain GV3101 was transformed by electroporation with pBI 121. Agrobacterium ... agrobacterium mediated transformation 15. SUBJECT TERMS 16. SECURITY CLASSIFICATION OF: 17. LIMITATION OF ABSTRACT Same as Report (SAR) 18. NUMBER OF...successful agrobacterium mediated transformation 15. SUBJECT TERMS synthetic biology, Systems Biology 16. SECURITY CLASSIFICATION OF
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
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.
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. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration — The goal of this project is to expand the capability and methodologies in experimental extreme biology as a step towards Martian ecopoiesis. The objectives in...
Full Text Available The main purpose of this review is to summarize recent chemical syntheses and structural modifications of 4-hydroxycoumarin and its derivatives, of interest due to their characteristic conjugated molecular architecture and biological activities.
Tenorio, Romulo P.; Goes, Alexandre J.S.; Lima, Jose G. de; Faria, Antonio R. de; Alves, Antonio J.; Aquino, Thiago M. de
Thiosemicarbazones are a class of compounds known by their chemical and biological properties, such as antitumor, antibacterial, antiviral and antiprotozoal activity. Their ability to form chelates with metals has great importance in their biological activities. Their synthesis is very simple, versatile and clean, usually giving high yields. They are largely employed as intermediates, in the synthesis of others compounds. This article is a survey of some of these characteristics showing their great importance to organic and medicinal chemistry. (author)
Full Text Available The incidence of deep infection using a synthetic mesh in inguinal hernia repair is low and reported to be well below 1%. This is in contrast to incisional hernia surgery where the reported incidence is 3% respective 13% comparing laparoscopic to open mesh repair reported in a Cochrane review. Main risk factors were long operation time, surgical site contamination and early wound complications. An infected mesh can be preserved using conservative treatment were negative pressure wound therapy (VAC® could play an important role. If strategy fails, the mesh needs to be removed. This review aims to look at evidence for situations were a biological mesh would work as a replacement of a removed infected synthetic mesh. Material and MethodsA literature search of the Medline database was performed using the PubMed search engine. Twenty publications were found relevant for this review.ResultsFor studies reviewed three options are presented: removal of the infected synthetic mesh alone, replacement with either a new synthetic or a new biological mesh. Operations were all performed at specialist centers. Removal of the mesh alone was an option limited to inguinal hernias. In ventral/incisional hernias the use of a biological mesh for replacement resulted in a very high recurrence rate, if bridging was required. Either a synthetic or a biological mesh seems to work as a replacement when fascial closure can be achieved. Evidence is though very low. ConclusionWhen required, either a synthetic or a biological meshes seems to work as a replacement for an infected synthetic mesh if the defect can be closed. It is however not recommended to use a biological mesh for bridging. Mesh replacement surgery is demanding and is recommended to be performed in a specialist center.
Fang, Zhixue; Ren, Feng; Zhou, Jianping; Tian, Jiao
Biologic meshes are mostly used for abdominal wall reinforcement in infected fields, but no consensus has been reached on its use for inguinal hernia repairing. The purpose of this study was to compare biologic mesh with synthetic mesh in open inguinal herniorrhaphy. A systematic literature review and meta-analysis was undertaken to identify studies comparing the outcomes of biologic mesh and synthetic mesh in open inguinal hernia repair. Published studies were identified by the databases PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library. A total of 382 patients in five randomized controlled trials were reviewed (179 patients in biologic mesh group; 203 patients in synthetic mesh group). The two groups did not significantly differ in chronic groin pain (P = 0.06) or recurrence (P = 0.38). The incidence of seroma trended higher in biologic mesh group (P = 0.03). Operating time was significantly longer with biologic mesh (P = 0.03). There was no significant difference in hematomas (P = 0.23) between the two groups. From the data of this study, biologic mesh had no superiority to synthetic mesh in open inguinal hernia repair with similar recurrence rates and incidence of chronic groin pain, but higher rate of seroma and longer operating time. However, this mesh still needs to be assessed in a large, multicentre, well-designed randomized controlled trial. © 2015 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
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. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
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. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
Sankari, Mohan; Rao, Priya Rajendra; Hemachandran, Hridya; Pullela, Phani Kumar; Doss C, George Priya; Tayubi, Iftikhar Aslam; Subramanian, Babu; Gothandam, K M; Singh, Pooja; Ramamoorthy, Siva
Carotenoids are isoprenoid pigments synthesized exclusively by plants and microorganisms and play critical roles in light harvesting, photoprotection, attracting pollinators and phytohormone production. In recent years, carotenoids have been used for their health benefits due to their high antioxidant activity and are extensively utilized in food, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical industries. Regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis occurs throughout the life cycle of plants, with vibrant changes in composition based on developmental needs and responses to external environmental stimuli. With advancements in metabolic engineering techniques, there has been tremendous progress in the production of industrially valuable secondary metabolites such as carotenoids. Application of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology has become essential for the successful and improved production of carotenoids. Synthetic biology is an emerging discipline; metabolic engineering approaches may provide insights into novel ideas for biosynthetic pathways. In this review, we discuss the current knowledge on carotenoid biosynthetic pathways and genetic engineering of carotenoids to improve their nutritional value. In addition, we investigated synthetic biological approaches for the production of carotenoids. Theoretical biology approaches that may aid in understanding the biological sciences are discussed in this review. A combination of theoretical knowledge and experimental strategies may improve the production of industrially relevant secondary metabolites. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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.
Sinibaldi, L; Pietropaolo, V; Goldoni, P; Di Taranto, C; Orsi, N
The effect of several biological and synthetic polymers, chosen on the basis of different physical and chemical properties, was investigated on BK virus infectivity and hemagglutination. It was observed that polyanions like mucin, dextran sulfate and heparin depressed the viral binding, whereas polycations had no significant activity, with the exception of poly-L-lysine, which enhanced it. The effect of the active polymers was studied in different experimental conditions and the results obtained suggested that polyanions may act directly on the virus particle, whereas the target of polycations could be at the level of cell membranes. However, the effect shown by the active compounds did not appear to be simply related to the electric charge since neutral compounds, such as tamarind gum and locust bean gum, showed a marked inhibitory effect on BK virus binding to the cells.
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.
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.
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.
Craig, Thomas; Holland, Richard; D'Amore, Rosalinda; Johnson, James R; McCue, Hannah V; West, Anthony; Zulkower, Valentin; Tekotte, Hille; Cai, Yizhi; Swan, Daniel; Davey, Robert P; Hertz-Fowler, Christiane; Hall, Anthony; Caddick, Mark
This paper presents Leaf LIMS, a flexible laboratory information management system (LIMS) designed to address the complexity of synthetic biology workflows. At the project's inception there was a lack of a LIMS designed specifically to address synthetic biology processes, with most systems focused on either next generation sequencing or biobanks and clinical sample handling. Leaf LIMS implements integrated project, item, and laboratory stock tracking, offering complete sample and construct genealogy, materials and lot tracking, and modular assay data capture. Hence, it enables highly configurable task-based workflows and supports data capture from project inception to completion. As such, in addition to it supporting synthetic biology it is ideal for many laboratory environments with multiple projects and users. The system is deployed as a web application through Docker and is provided under a permissive MIT license. It is freely available for download at https://leaflims.github.io .
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.
Flores Bueso, Yensi; Lehouritis, Panos; Tangney, Mark
The ability to modify existing microbiota at different sites presents enormous potential for local or indirect management of various diseases. Because bacteria can be maintained for lengthy periods in various regions of the body, they represent a platform with enormous potential for targeted production of biomolecules, which offer tremendous promise for therapeutic and diagnostic approaches for various diseases. While biological medicines are currently limited in the clinic to patient administration of exogenously produced biomolecules from engineered cells, in situ production of biomolecules presents enormous scope in medicine and beyond. The slow pace and high expense of traditional research approaches has particularly hampered the development of biological medicines. It may be argued that bacterial-based medicine has been "waiting" for the advent of enabling technology. We propose that this technology is Synthetic Biology, and that the wait is over. Synthetic Biology facilitates a systematic approach to programming living entities and/or their products, using an approach to Research and Development (R&D) that facilitates rapid, cheap, accessible, yet sophisticated product development. Full engagement with the Synthetic Biology approach to R&D can unlock the potential for bacteria as medicines for cancer and other indications. In this review, we describe how by employing Synthetic Biology, designer bugs can be used as drugs, drug-production factories or diagnostic devices, using oncology as an exemplar for the concept of in situ biomolecule production in medicine. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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
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
Štambaský, J.; Hocek, Michal; Kočovský, P.
Roč. 109, č. 12 (2009), s. 6729-6764 ISSN 0009-2665 R&D Projects: GA MŠk LC512; GA AV ČR IAA400550902 Grant - others:NIH(US) 1R03TW007372-01 Institutional research plan: CEZ:AV0Z40550506 Keywords : nucleosides * nucleobases * biological activity * extension of genetic alphabet Subject RIV: CC - Organic Chemistry Impact factor: 35.957, year: 2009
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. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Nikolov, Svetoslav; Jensen, Jørgen Arendt
This paper investigates the feasibility of implementing real-time synthetic aperture 3D imaging on the experimental system developed at the Center for Fast Ultrasound Imaging using a 2D transducer array. The target array is a fully populated 32 × 32 3 MHz array with a half wavelength pitch...... with an elliptic footprint. The results of simulations show that the angular resolution at -6dB is 2.7 degrees, and is determined by the distance between the outer-most transmit elements. The peak gratinglobe levels are −23.5, −25, 27.2, −44.5 dB below the main peak for 64, 100, 144, and 169 transmit events...... experimental array made by Vermon with a center frequency of 2.93 MHz, fractional bandwidth of 58 %, and a pitch of 300 µm. The simulations show, that using all of the 128 elements a spherical wave within ±50 degrees sector can be created. The level of the edge waves is reduced by applying apodization...
Hu, Xiaojun; Rousseau, Ronald
Using a carefully designed search query, we describe the field of synthetic biology in terms of leading countries, organizations and funding sources. Besides articles we also paid some attention to patents. The USA is the leading country in this field, followed by China. There is a clear exponential growth in the field of synthetic biology over the latest 14 years. Keywords were analyzed using the notion of year-based h-indices, core gap and relative core gap. We conclude that the term “synth...
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.
Fletcher, Eugene; Krivoruchko, Anastasia; Nielsen, Jens
, 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...
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
Bernardo Alvarez, María Angela
The roots of synthetic biology--the redesign of biological molecules, structures and organisms--can be traced to the research developed by Jacques L. Monod and François Jacob in 1961. This field has undergone significant growth in the past ten years and its emergence has raised the question of whether the patent system is suitable to protect inventions in emergent areas as synthetic biology. The article will analyze the numerous scientific, socio-economic, ethical and legal challenges faced by synthetic biology, introducing the European Patent Law related to biotechnology as the minimum common framework and considering if more changes are needed to adequately protect the inventor rights, while taking into account the arrival of a new research culture, characterized by embracing open-innovation and open-source initiatives. The discussion will review some biotechnological patent law cases and summarize questions as whether isolated molecules of DNA are eligible for patent or the patentability of living matter, under the terms of Directive 98/44/EC. The article will finally consider the impact of synthetic biology on the European patent system.
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
Lőrincz, Orsolya; Tőke, Enikő R.; Somogyi, Eszter; Horkay, Ferenc; Chandran, Preethi; Douglas, Jack F.; Szebeni, János; Lisziewicz, Julianna
Here we characterize the structure, stability and intracellular mode-of-action of DermaVir nanomedicine that is under clinical development for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. This nanomedicine is comprised of pathogen-like pDNA/PEIm nanoparticles (NPs) having the structure and function resembling spherical viruses that naturally evolved to deliver nucleic acids to the cells. Atomic force microscopy demonstrated spherical 100–200nm NPs with a smooth polymer surface protecting the pDNA in the core. Optical-absorption determined both the NP structural stability and biological activity relevant to their ability to escape from the endosome and release the pDNA at the nucleus. Salt, pH and temperature influence the nanomedicine shelf-life and intracellular stability. This approach facilitates the development of diverse polyplex nanomedicines where the delivered pDNA-expressed antigens induce immune responses to kill infected cells. PMID:21839051
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.
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.
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.
King, Jason R.; Edgar, Steven; Qiao, Kangjian; Stephanopoulos, Gregory
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. PMID:27081481
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.
Full Text Available Aim. The nascent field of bio-geoengineering stands to benefit from synthetic biologists’ efforts to standardise, and in so doing democratise, biomolecular research methods. Roseobacter clade bacteria comprise 15–20% of oceanic bacterio-plankton communities, making them a prime candidate for establishment of synthetic biology chassis for bio-geoengineering activities such as bioremediation of oceanic waste plastic. Developments such as the increasing affordability of DNA synthesis and laboratory automation continue to foster the establishment of a global ‘do-it-yourself’ research community alongside the more traditional arenas of academe and industry. As a collaborative group of citizen, student and professional scientists we sought to test the following hypotheses: (i that an incubator capable of cultivating bacterial cells can be constructed entirely from non-laboratory items, (ii that marine bacteria from the Roseobacter clade can be established as a genetically tractable synthetic biology chassis using plasmids conforming to the BioBrickTM standard and finally, (iii that identifying and subcloning genes from a Roseobacter clade species can readily by achieved by citizen scientists using open source cloning and bioinformatic tools. Method. We cultivated three Roseobacter species, Roseobacter denitrificans, Oceanobulbus indolifexand Dinoroseobacter shibae. For each species we measured chloramphenicol sensitivity, viability over 11 weeks of glycerol-based cryopreservation and tested the effectiveness of a series of electroporation and heat shock protocols for transformation using a variety of plasmid types. We also attempted construction of an incubator-shaker device using only publicly available components. Finally, a subgroup comprising citizen scientists designed and attempted a procedure for isolating the cold resistance anf1 gene from Oceanobulbus indolifexcells and subcloning it into a BioBrickTM formatted plasmid. Results. All
Borg, Yanika; Grigonyte, Aurelija Marija; Boeing, Philipp; Wolfenden, Bethan; Smith, Patrick; Beaufoy, William; Rose, Simon; Ratisai, Tonderai; Zaikin, Alexey; Nesbeth, Darren N
Aim. The nascent field of bio-geoengineering stands to benefit from synthetic biologists' efforts to standardise, and in so doing democratise, biomolecular research methods. Roseobacter clade bacteria comprise 15-20% of oceanic bacterio-plankton communities, making them a prime candidate for establishment of synthetic biology chassis for bio-geoengineering activities such as bioremediation of oceanic waste plastic. Developments such as the increasing affordability of DNA synthesis and laboratory automation continue to foster the establishment of a global 'do-it-yourself' research community alongside the more traditional arenas of academe and industry. As a collaborative group of citizen, student and professional scientists we sought to test the following hypotheses: (i) that an incubator capable of cultivating bacterial cells can be constructed entirely from non-laboratory items, (ii) that marine bacteria from the Roseobacter clade can be established as a genetically tractable synthetic biology chassis using plasmids conforming to the BioBrick(TM) standard and finally, (iii) that identifying and subcloning genes from a Roseobacter clade species can readily by achieved by citizen scientists using open source cloning and bioinformatic tools. Method. We cultivated three Roseobacter species, Roseobacter denitrificans, Oceanobulbus indolifexand Dinoroseobacter shibae. For each species we measured chloramphenicol sensitivity, viability over 11 weeks of glycerol-based cryopreservation and tested the effectiveness of a series of electroporation and heat shock protocols for transformation using a variety of plasmid types. We also attempted construction of an incubator-shaker device using only publicly available components. Finally, a subgroup comprising citizen scientists designed and attempted a procedure for isolating the cold resistance anf1 gene from Oceanobulbus indolifexcells and subcloning it into a BioBrick(TM) formatted plasmid. Results. All species were stable
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.
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
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.
Wolfe, Amy K; Campa, Maria Fernanda; Bergmann, Rachael A; Stelling, Savannah C; Bjornstad, David J; Shumpert, Barry L
Factors that shape actual research practices - 'social and institutional context' - typically are missing from considerations of synthetic biology R&D-related risk and containment. We argue that analyzing context is essential in identifying circumstances that create, amplify, or diminish risk, and in revealing new opportunities for avoiding or managing those risks. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
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. © 2016 The Author(s). published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
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
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.
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.
Li, Mingji; Borodina, Irina
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-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 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 computational tools for the prediction of biochemical pathways, molecular biology methods for assembly of DNA parts into pathways, and for introducing the pathways into the host, and finally approaches for optimizing performance of the introduced pathways. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yi, Hyoju; Kim, Youngkyun; Kim, Juryun; Jung, Hyerin; Rim, Yeri Alice; Jung, Seung Min; Park, Sung-Hwan; Ju, Ji Hyeon
Biologics are the most successful drugs used in anticytokine therapy. However, they remain partially unsuccessful because of the elevated cost of their synthesis and purification. Development of novel biologics has also been hampered by the high cost. Biologics are made of protein components; thus, theoretically, they can be produced in vivo. Here we tried to invent a novel strategy to allow the production of synthetic drugs in vivo by the host itself. The recombinant minicircles encoding etanercept or tocilizumab, which are synthesized currently by pharmaceutical companies, were injected intravenously into animal models. Self-reproduced etanercept and tocilizumab were detected in the serum of mice. Moreover, arthritis subsided in mice that were injected with minicircle vectors carrying biologics. Self-reproducible biologics need neither factory facilities for drug production nor clinical processes, such as frequent drug injection. Although this novel strategy is in its very early conceptual stage, it seems to represent a potential alternative method for the delivery of biologics.
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. © 2016 The Authors. The Plant Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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-of-concept ch......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...... computational tools for the prediction of biochemical pathways, molecular biology methods for assembly of DNA parts into pathways, and for introducing the pathways into the host, and finally approaches for optimizing performance of the introduced pathways....
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.
Kang, Zhen; Huang, Hao; Zhang, Yunfeng; Du, Guocheng; Chen, Jian
Pichia pastoris: (reclassified as Komagataella phaffii), a methylotrophic yeast strain has been widely used for heterologous protein production because of its unique advantages, such as readily achievable high-density fermentation, tractable genetic modifications and typical eukaryotic post-translational modifications. More recently, P. pastoris as a metabolic pathway engineering platform has also gained much attention. In this mini-review, we addressed recent advances of molecular toolboxes, including synthetic promoters, signal peptides, and genome engineering tools that established for P. pastoris. Furthermore, the applications of P. pastoris towards synthetic biology were also discussed and prospected especially in the context of genome-scale metabolic pathway analysis.
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."
Marković, Smilja; Veselinović, Ljiljana; Lukić, Miodrag J; Karanović, Ljiljana; Bračko, Ines; Ignjatović, Nenad; Uskoković, Dragan
Phase composition, crystal structure and morphology of biological hydroxyapatite (BHAp) extracted from human mandible bone, and carbonated hydroxyapatite (CHAp), synthesized by the chemical precipitation method, were studied by x-ray powder diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and Raman (R) spectroscopy techniques, combined with transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Structural and microstructural parameters were determined through Rietveld refinement of recorded XRD data, performed using the FullProf computing program, and TEM. Microstructural analysis shows anisotropic extension along the [00l] crystallographic direction (i.e. elongated crystallites shape) of both investigated samples. The average crystallite sizes of 10 and 8 nm were estimated for BHAp and CHAp, respectively. The FTIR and R spectroscopy studies show that carbonate ions substitute both phosphate and hydroxyl ions in the crystal structure of BHAp as well as in CHAp, indicating that both of them are mixed AB-type of CHAp. The thermal behaviour and carbonate content were analysed using thermogravimetric and differential thermal analysis. The carbonate content of about 1 wt.% and phase transition, at near 790 °C, from HAp to β-tricalcium phosphate were determined in both samples. The quality of synthesized CHAp powder, particularly, the particle size distribution and uniformity of morphology, was analysed by a particle size analyser based on laser diffraction and field emission scanning electron microscopy, respectively. These data were used to discuss similarity between natural and synthetic CHAp. Good correlation between the unit cell parameters, average crystallite size, morphology, carbonate content and crystallographic positions of carbonate ions in natural and synthetic HAp samples was found. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd
Ibrahim, Ahmed M S; Vargas, Christina R; Colakoglu, Salih; Nguyen, John T; Lin, Samuel J; Lee, Bernard T
Data on the mechanical properties of the adult human abdominal wall have been difficult to obtain rendering manufacture of the ideal mesh for ventral hernia repair a challenge. An ideal mesh would need to exhibit greater biomechanical strength and elasticity than that of the abdominal wall. The aim of this study is to quantitatively compare the biomechanical properties of the most commonly used synthetic and biologic meshes in ventral hernia repair and presents a comprehensive literature review. A narrative review of the literature was performed using the PubMed database spanning articles from 1982 to 2012 including a review of company Web sites to identify all available information relating to the biomechanical properties of various synthetic and biologic meshes used in ventral hernia repair. There exist differences in the mechanical properties and the chemical nature of different meshes. In general, most synthetic materials have greater stiffness and elasticity than what is required for abdominal wall reconstruction; however, each exhibits unique properties that may be beneficial for clinical use. On the contrary, biologic meshes are more elastic but less stiff and with a lower tensile strength than their synthetic counterparts. The current standard of practice for the treatment of ventral hernias is the use of permanent synthetic mesh material. Recently, biologic meshes have become more frequently used. Most meshes exhibit biomechanical properties over the known abdominal wall thresholds. Augmenting strength requires increasing amounts of material contributing to more stiffness and foreign body reaction, which is not necessarily an advantage. Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.
Kim, Juhyun; Salvador, Manuel; Saunders, Elizabeth; González, Jaime; Avignone-Rossa, Claudio
The chassis is the cellular host used as a recipient of engineered biological systems in synthetic biology. They are required to propagate the genetic information and to express the genes encoded in it. Despite being an essential element for the appropriate function of genetic circuits, the chassis is rarely considered in their design phase. Consequently, the circuits are transferred to model organisms commonly used in the laboratory, such as Escherichia coli, that may be suboptimal for a required function. In this review, we discuss some of the properties desirable in a versatile chassis and summarize some examples of alternative hosts for synthetic biology amenable for engineering. These properties include a suitable life style, a robust cell wall, good knowledge of its regulatory network as well as of the interplay of the host components with the exogenous circuits, and the possibility of developing whole-cell models and tuneable metabolic fluxes that could allow a better distribution of cellular resources (metabolites, ATP, nucleotides, amino acids, transcriptional and translational machinery). We highlight Pseudomonas putida, widely used in many different biotechnological applications as a prominent organism for synthetic biology due to its metabolic diversity, robustness and ease of manipulation. PMID:27903818
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.
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.
Carbonell-Ballestero, M; Garcia-Ramallo, E; Montañez, R; Rodriguez-Caso, C; Macía, J
Synthetic biology seeks to envision living cells as a matter of engineering. However, increasing evidence suggests that the genetic load imposed by the incorporation of synthetic devices in a living organism introduces a sort of unpredictability in the design process. As a result, individual part characterization is not enough to predict the behavior of designed circuits and thus, a costly trial-error process is eventually required. In this work, we provide a new theoretical framework for the predictive treatment of the genetic load. We mathematically and experimentally demonstrate that dependences among genes follow a quantitatively predictable behavior. Our theory predicts the observed reduction of the expression of a given synthetic gene when an extra genetic load is introduced in the circuit. The theory also explains that such dependence qualitatively differs when the extra load is added either by transcriptional or translational modifications. We finally show that the limitation of the cellular resources for gene expression leads to a mathematical formulation that converges to an expression analogous to the Ohm's law for electric circuits. Similitudes and divergences with this law are outlined. Our work provides a suitable framework with predictive character for the design process of complex genetic devices in synthetic biology. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
Osborn, Luke; Nguyen, Harrison; Betthauser, Joseph; Kaliki, Rahul; Thakor, Nitish
The human body offers a template for many state-of-the-art prosthetic devices and sensors. In this work, we present a novel, sensorized synthetic skin that mimics the natural multi-layered nature of mechanoreceptors found in healthy glabrous skin to provide tactile information. The multi-layered sensor is made up of flexible piezoresistive textiles that act as force sensitive resistors (FSRs) to convey tactile information, which are embedded within a silicone rubber to resemble the compliant nature of human skin. The top layer of the synthetic skin is capable of detecting small loads less than 5 N whereas the bottom sensing layer responds reliably to loads over 7 N. Finite element analysis (FEA) of a simplified human fingertip and the synthetic skin was performed. Results suggest similarities in behavior during loading. A natural tactile event is simulated by loading the synthetic skin on a prosthetic limb. Results show the sensors' ability to detect applied loads as well as the ability to simulate neural spiking activity based on the derivative and temporal differences of the sensor response. During the tactile loading, the top sensing layer responded 0.24 s faster than the bottom sensing layer. A synthetic biologically-inspired skin such as this will be useful for enhancing the functionality of prosthetic limbs through tactile feedback.
Flasiński, Michał; Hąc-Wydro, Katarzyna
Analysis of the interactions between two representatives of plant hormones: synthetic (1-naphthaleneacetic acid, NAA) as well as natural (indole-3-acetic acid, IAA) and phospholipids occurring in biological membrane of both plant and animal cells was the subject of present studies. The aim of undertaken experiments was to elucidate the problem of direct influence of these plant growth regulators on phosphatidylcholines (PCs) and phosphatidylethanolamines (PEs) in monolayers at the air/water solution interface. The studied phospholipids differ not only as regards the structure of polar head-groups but also in the length of hydrophobic chains as well as their saturation degree. These differences result also in the main properties and functions of these phospholipids in biomembranes. The analysis of the results was based on the characteristics of the surface pressure (π)--area (A) isotherms registered for monolayers spread on the subphase containing plant hormone and as a reference on the surface of pure water. Moreover, as a complementary technique, Brewster angle microscopy was applied for the direct visualization of the investigated surface films. The obtained results revealed that auxins effectively influence phospholipids monolayers, regardless of the lipid structure, at the concentration of 10(-4)M. It was found that for this concentration, the influence of auxins was visibly larger in the case of PCs as compared to PEs. On the other hand, in the case of auxins solution of ≤ 10(-5)M, the observed trend was opposite. Generally, our studies showed that the natural plant hormone (IAA) interacts with the investigated lipid monolayers stronger than its synthetic derivative (NAA). The reason of these differences connects with the steric properties of both auxins; namely, the naphthalene ring of NAA molecule occupies larger space than the indole system of IAA. Therefore molecules of the latter compound penetrate easier into the region of phospholipids׳ polar head
Midander, Klara; Wallinder, Inger Odnevall; Leygraf, Christofer
The aim of this paper is to provide quantitative data on copper release from powder particles of different copper materials, including artificial copper patina, Cu 2 O and metallic Cu, when exposed to different synthetic biological media to simulate an inhalation scenario and/or skin contact. Generated data may contribute in risk assessment of potential health effects following exposure to and handling of various copper materials. All tests were performed in vitro to determine total copper concentrations, release rates of total copper, and to elucidate its time-dependence. The copper release process was interpreted in terms of specific surface area, surface morphology-, and composition. All powder materials show a time-dependent release process with total copper release rates less than 3 μg/cm 2 per hour at steady state conditions, for all media investigated. The importance of using relevant test media when simulating different interstitial lung conditions and difficulties encountered when comparing powder particles of essentially different properties are thoroughly discussed. - Copper release rates from particles are essential to assess potential health aspects
Markley, Andrew L; Begemann, Matthew B; Clarke, Ryan E; Gordon, Gina C; Pfleger, Brian F
The application of synthetic biology requires characterized tools to precisely control gene expression. This toolbox of genetic parts previously did not exist for the industrially promising cyanobacterium, Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002. To address this gap, two orthogonal constitutive promoter libraries, one based on a cyanobacterial promoter and the other ported from Escherichia coli, were built and tested in PCC 7002. The libraries demonstrated 3 and 2.5 log dynamic ranges, respectively, but correlated poorly with E. coli expression levels. These promoter libraries were then combined to create and optimize a series of IPTG inducible cassettes. The resultant induction system had a 48-fold dynamic range and was shown to out-perform Ptrc constructs. Finally, a RBS library was designed and tested in PCC 7002. The presented synthetic biology toolbox will enable accelerated engineering of PCC 7002.
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
Verónica Leticia Colin
Full Text Available 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.
Vickers, Claudia E; Williams, Thomas C; Peng, Bingyin; Cherry, Joel
Isoprenoids (terpenes/terpenoids) have many useful industrial applications, but are often not produced at industrially viable level in their natural sources. Synthetic biology approaches have been used extensively to reconstruct metabolic pathways in tractable microbial hosts such as yeast and re-engineer pathways and networks to increase yields. Here we review recent advances in this field, focusing on central carbon metabolism engineering to increase precursor supply, re-directing carbon flux for production of C10, C15, or C20 isoprenoids, and chemical decoration of high value diterpenoids (C20). We also overview other novel synthetic biology strategies that have potential utility in yeast isoprenoid pathway engineering. Finally, we address the question of what is required in the future to move the field forwards. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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.
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.
Le Feuvre RA
Full Text Available The UK Synthetic Biology Research Centre, SYNBIOCHEM, hosted by the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Manchester is delivering innovative technology platforms to facilitate the predictable engineering of microbial bio-factories for fine and speciality chemicals production. We provide an overview of our foundry activities that are being applied to grand challenge projects to deliver innovation in bio-based chemicals production for industrial biotechnology.
Gasser, Brigitte; Steiger, Matthias G; Mattanovich, Diethard
Promoters are indispensable elements of a standardized parts collection for synthetic biology. Regulated promoters of a wide variety of well-defined induction ratios and expression strengths are highly interesting for many applications. Exemplarily, we discuss the application of published genome scale transcriptomics data for the primary selection of methanol inducible promoters of the yeast Pichia pastoris (Komagataella sp.). Such a promoter collection can serve as an excellent toolbox for cell and metabolic engineering, and for gene expression to produce heterologous proteins.
Schreiber, Falk; Bader, Gary D; Gleeson, Padraig; Golebiewski, Martin; Hucka, Michael; Keating, Sarah M; Novère, Nicolas Le; Myers, Chris; Nickerson, David; Sommer, Björn; Waltemath, Dagmar
Standards are essential to the advancement of Systems and Synthetic Biology. COMBINE provides a formal body and a centralised platform to help develop and disseminate relevant standards and related resources. The regular special issue of the Journal of Integrative Bioinformatics aims to support the exchange, distribution and archiving of these standards by providing unified, easily citable access. This paper provides an overview of existing COMBINE standards and presents developments of the last year.
Yadav, Vikramaditya G; De Mey, Marjan; Lim, Chin Giaw; Ajikumar, Parayil Kumaran; Stephanopoulos, Gregory
Industrial biotechnology promises to revolutionize conventional chemical manufacturing in the years ahead, largely owing to the excellent progress in our ability to re-engineer cellular metabolism. However, most successes of metabolic engineering have been confined to over-producing natively synthesized metabolites in E. coli and S. cerevisiae. A major reason for this development has been the descent of metabolic engineering, particularly secondary metabolic engineering, to a collection of demonstrations rather than a systematic practice with generalizable tools. Synthetic biology, a more recent development, faces similar criticisms. Herein, we attempt to lay down a framework around which bioreaction engineering can systematize itself just like chemical reaction engineering. Central to this undertaking is a new approach to engineering secondary metabolism known as 'multivariate modular metabolic engineering' (MMME), whose novelty lies in its assessment and elimination of regulatory and pathway bottlenecks by re-defining the metabolic network as a collection of distinct modules. After introducing the core principles of MMME, we shall then present a number of recent developments in secondary metabolic engineering that could potentially serve as its facilitators. It is hoped that the ever-declining costs of de novo gene synthesis; the improved use of bioinformatic tools to mine, sort and analyze biological data; and the increasing sensitivity and sophistication of investigational tools will make the maturation of microbial metabolic engineering an autocatalytic process. Encouraged by these advances, research groups across the world would take up the challenge of secondary metabolite production in simple hosts with renewed vigor, thereby adding to the range of products synthesized using metabolic engineering. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Carbonell, Pablo; Gök, Abdullah; Shapira, Philip; Faulon, Jean-Loup
A goal of synthetic biology bio-foundries is to innovate through an iterative design/build/test/learn pipeline. In assessing the value of new chemical production routes, the intellectual property (IP) novelty of the pathway is important. Exploratory studies can be carried using knowledge of the patent/IP landscape for synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. In this paper, we perform an assessment of pathways as potential targets for chemical production across the full catalogue of reachable chemicals in the extended metabolic space of chassis organisms, as computed by the retrosynthesis-based algorithm RetroPath. Our database for reactions processed by sequences in heterologous pathways was screened against the PatSeq database, a comprehensive collection of more than 150M sequences present in patent grants and applications. We also examine related patent families using Derwent Innovations. This large-scale computational study provides useful insights into the IP landscape of synthetic biology for fine and specialty chemicals production. © 2016 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.
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.
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.
Full Text Available 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, 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. PMID:25233369
He, F.; Murabito, E.; Westerhoff, H.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 throughin silicotheoretical studies with the aim to guide and complement furtherin vitroandin vivoexperimental
Madhavan, Aravind [Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Trivandrum (India); Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Trivandrum (India); Jose, Anju Alphonsa; Binod, Parameswaran; Sindhu, Raveendran, E-mail: email@example.com; Sukumaran, Rajeev K. [Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Trivandrum (India); Pandey, Ashok [Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Trivandrum (India); Center for Innovative and Applied Bioprocessing, Mohali, Punjab (India); Castro, Galliano Eulogio [Dpt. Ingeniería Química, Ambiental y de los Materiales Edificio, Universidad de Jaén, Jaén (Spain)
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.
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.
Madhavan, Aravind; Jose, Anju Alphonsa; Binod, Parameswaran; Sindhu, Raveendran; Sukumaran, Rajeev K.; Pandey, Ashok; Castro, Galliano Eulogio
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.
Foureau, E; Carqueijeiro, I; Dugé de Bernonville, T; Melin, C; Lafontaine, F; Besseau, S; Lanoue, A; Papon, N; Oudin, A; Glévarec, G; Clastre, M; St-Pierre, B; Giglioli-Guivarc'h, N; Courdavault, V
Natural compounds extracted from microorganisms or plants constitute an inexhaustible source of valuable molecules whose supply can be potentially challenged by limitations in biological sourcing. The recent progress in synthetic biology combined to the increasing access to extensive transcriptomics and genomics data now provide new alternatives to produce these molecules by transferring their whole biosynthetic pathway in heterologous production platforms such as yeasts or bacteria. While the generation of high titer producing strains remains per se an arduous field of investigation, elucidation of the biosynthetic pathways as well as characterization of their complex subcellular organization are essential prequels to the efficient development of such bioengineering approaches. Using examples from plants and yeasts as a framework, we describe potent methods to rationalize the study of partially characterized pathways, including the basics of computational applications to identify candidate genes in transcriptomics data and the validation of their function by an improved procedure of virus-induced gene silencing mediated by direct DNA transfer to get around possible resistance to Agrobacterium-delivery of viral vectors. To identify potential alterations of biosynthetic fluxes resulting from enzyme mislocalizations in reconstituted pathways, we also detail protocols aiming at characterizing subcellular localizations of protein in plant cells by expression of fluorescent protein fusions through biolistic-mediated transient transformation, and localization of transferred enzymes in yeast using similar fluorescence procedures. Albeit initially developed for the Madagascar periwinkle, these methods may be applied to other plant species or organisms in order to establish synthetic biology platform. © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Jagtap, Umesh B; Jadhav, Jyoti P; Bapat, Vishwas A; Pretorius, Isak S
It took several millennia to fully understand the scientific intricacies of the process through which grape juice is turned into wine. This yeast-driven fermentation process is still being perfected and advanced today. Motivated by ever-changing consumer preferences and the belief that the 'best' wine is yet to be made, numerous approaches are being pursued to improve the process of yeast fermentation and the quality of wine. Central to recent enhancements in winemaking processes and wine quality is the development of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains with improved robustness, fermentation efficiencies and sensory properties. The emerging science of Synthetic Biology - including genome engineering and DNA editing technologies - is taking yeast strain development into a totally new realm of possibility. The first example of how future wine strain development might be impacted by these new 'history-making' Synthetic Biology technologies, is the de novo production of the raspberry ketone aroma compound, 4-[4-hydroxyphenyl]butan-2-one, in a wine yeast containing a synthetic DNA cassette. This article explores how this breakthrough and the imminent outcome of the international Yeast 2.0 (or Sc2.0) project, aimed at the synthesis of the entire genome of a laboratory strain of S. cerevisiae, might accelerate the design of improved wine yeasts. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Zess, Erin K; Begemann, Matthew B; Pfleger, Brian F
Predictive control of gene expression is an essential tool for developing synthetic biological systems. The current toolbox for controlling gene expression in cyanobacteria is a barrier to more in-depth genetic analysis and manipulation. Towards relieving this bottleneck, this work describes the use of synthetic biology to construct an anhydrotetracycline-based induction system and adapt a trans-acting small RNA (sRNA) system for use in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002. An anhydrotetracycline-inducible promoter was developed to maximize intrinsic strength and dynamic range. The resulting construct, PEZtet , exhibited tight repression and a maximum 32-fold induction upon addition of anhydrotetracycline. Additionally, a sRNA system based on the Escherichia coli IS10 RNA-IN/OUT regulator was adapted for use in Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002. This system exhibited 70% attenuation of target gene expression, providing a demonstration of the use of sRNAs for differential gene expression in cyanobacteria. These systems were combined to produce an inducible sRNA system, which demonstrated 59% attenuation of target gene expression. Lastly, the role of Hfq, a critical component of sRNA systems in E. coli, was investigated. Genetic studies showed that the Hfq homolog in Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002 did not impact repression by the engineered sRNA system. In summary, this work describes new synthetic biology tools that can be applied to physiological studies, metabolic engineering, or sRNA platforms in Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Gschmeidler, Brigitte; Seiringer, Alexandra
Although still a side issue in the German-language media, attention towards synthetic biology has risen clearly during the last years, in line with the first applications being presented. This paper presents findings from a content analysis of synthetic biology coverage in German-language media over the years 2004-2009. In the media, synthetic biology is not clearly separated from gene technology. News value is attributed to established categories such as persons and events. Many metaphors and analogies used in describing gene technology can also be found in the coverage of synthetic biology; however, engineering metaphors are more prominent. In addition, playfulness constitutes an aspect rarely found in genetic engineering coverage. Overall, the picture emerging is ambivalent, which leaves prospects for the further development of public debate ambiguous.
McLaughlin, James Alastair; Pocock, Matthew; Mısırlı, Göksel; Madsen, Curtis; Wipat, Anil
Duarte, José M; Barbier, Içvara; Schaerli, Yolanda
Synthetic biologists increasingly rely on directed evolution to optimize engineered biological systems. Applying an appropriate screening or selection method for identifying the potentially rare library members with the desired properties is a crucial step for success in these experiments. Special challenges include substantial cell-to-cell variability and the requirement to check multiple states (e.g., being ON or OFF depending on the input). Here, we present a high-throughput screening method that addresses these challenges. First, we encapsulate single bacteria into microfluidic agarose gel beads. After incubation, they harbor monoclonal bacterial microcolonies (e.g., expressing a synthetic construct) and can be sorted according their fluorescence by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). We determine enrichment rates and demonstrate that we can measure the average fluorescent signals of microcolonies containing phenotypically heterogeneous cells, obviating the problem of cell-to-cell variability. Finally, we apply this method to sort a pBAD promoter library at ON and OFF states.
Dale L. Beach
Full Text Available 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 < 0.05 for all learning outcomes. Ninety percent of students indicated that the Synthetic Biology Laboratory Project enhanced their understanding of molecular genetics. The laboratory project is highly adaptable for both introductory and advanced courses. Editor's Note:The ASM advocates that students must successfully demonstrate the ability to explain and practice safe
Masiello, C. A.; Silberg, J. J.; Cheng, H. Y.; Del Valle, I.; Fulk, E. M.; Gao, X.; Bennett, G. N.
Microbes can be programmed through synthetic biology to report on their behavior, informing researchers when their environment has triggered changes in their gene expression (e.g. in response to shifts in O2 or H2O), or when they have participated in a specific step of an elemental cycle (e.g. denitrification). This use of synthetic biology has the potential to significantly improve our understanding of microbes' roles in elemental and water cycling, because it allows reporting on the environment from the perspective of a microbe, matching the measurement scale exactly to the scale that a microbe experiences. However, synthetic microbes have not yet seen wide use in soil and sediment laboratory experiments because synthetic organisms typically report by fluorescing, making their signals difficult to detect outside the petri dish. We are developing a new suite of microbial programs that report instead by releasing easily-detected gases, allowing the real-time, noninvasive monitoring of behaviors in sediments and soils. Microbial biosensors can, in theory, be programmed to detect dynamic processes that contribute to a wide range of geobiological processes, including C cycling (biofilm production, methanogenesis, and synthesis of extracellular enzymes that degrade organic matter), N cycling (expression of enzymes that underlie different steps of the N cycle) and potentially S cycling. We will provide an overview of the potential uses of gas-reporting biosensors in soil and sediment lab experiments, and will report the development of the systematics of these sensors. Successful development of gas biosensors for laboratory use will require addressing issues including: engineering the intensity and selectivity of microbial gas production to maximize the signal to noise ratio; normalizing the gas reporter signal to cell population size, managing gas diffusion effects on signal shape; and developing multiple gases that can be used in parallel.
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.
Carter, Sarah R. [J. Craig Venter Inst., Rockville, MD (United States); Rodemeyer, Michael [Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA (United States); Garfinkel, Michele S. [EMBO, Heidelberg (Germany); Friedman, Robert M. [J. Craig Venter Inst., Rockville, MD (United States)
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
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.
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.
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.
The present study was aimed at investigating drug release from spermaceti wax matrices. Materials such as ethylcellulose and methylcellulose were incorporated into the spermaceti wax matrices and release was evaluated. Spermaceti wax can form matrices that release drug in a sustained release fashion. Higuchi or first ...
Ammazzalorso, Alessandra; De Filippis, Barbara; Giampietro, Letizia; Amoroso, Rosa
Sulfonamide is a common structural motif in naturally occurring and synthetic medicinal compounds. The rising interest in sulfonamides and N-acyl derivatives is attested by the large number of drugs and lead compounds identified in last years, explored in different fields of medicinal chemistry and showing biological activity. Many acylsulfonamide derivatives were designed and synthesized as isosteres of carboxylic acids, being the characteristics of these functional groups very close. Starting from chemical routes to N-acylsulfonamides, this review explores compounds of pharmaceutical interest, developed as enzymatic inhibitors or targeting receptors. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
The Commission of the (Catholic) Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) has issued an opinion on the ethics of synthetic biology (synbio). Examining synbio from religious and more general ethical perspectives, it examines synbio's potential pros and cons, as well as whether it is ethical in and of itself. Its conclusions mirror those of the ethical mainstream; namely, that synbio may present humanity with opportunities for both great advancement and great destruction. It suggests a prudent approach, and calls for regulation to be used to encourage positive outcomes while reducing the likelihood of negative ones.
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...
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.
Defendi, F; Charignon, D; Ghannam, A; Ponard, D; Drouet, C
Kinin-mediated angioedema results from accumulation of kinins, vasoactive and vasopermeant peptides, on the vascular endothelium. The disease is characterized by sudden episodes of swelling in the subcutaneous and submucosal tissues; the edema may occur spontaneously or it may be precipitated by triggering factors such as physical or emotional stress, or certain medicines. The characterization of kinin formation and catabolism systems helps improve knowledge of the aetiopathogenic mechanisms involved and provides the basis for classification of kinin-mediated angioedema conditions; thus, we may distinguish between angioedema with C1 inhibitor deficiency, whether inherited or acquired, and angioedema with normal C1 inhibitor activity, associated with increased kinin-forming activity or deficiency in kinin catabolism enzymes. In support of the clinical diagnosis, the physician may request laboratory investigation for a functional and molecular definition of the disease. Laboratory diagnosis is based on the characterization of: (1) kinin production control by C1 inhibitor investigation (function, antigen levels and circulating species); (2) kinin production (kininogenase activity, kininogen cleavage species); and (3) kinin catabolism enzymes (aminopeptidase P, carboxypeptidase N, angiotensin-I converting enzyme and dipeptidyl peptidase IV). An abnormal biological phenotype is supported by examination of susceptibility genes (SERPING1, F12 and XPNPEP2) and mutation segregation in the families. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
We have investigated the molecular origins of second order optical nonlinear effects in proteins with sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy. We have focused our investigation on two protein structures, poly-gamma-benzyl-L-glutamate (PBLG), a synthetic single helical protein, and collagen, an extracellular triple helical protein. We have found that the second order nonlinearity in PBLG arises from the collective contribution of amide A and amide I groups that are organized in a noncentrosymmetric manner by hydrogen bonding. In contrast, in the case of collagen, the second order nonlinear effects are due to (1) achiral contribution from the methylene groups associated with Fermi resonance between the fundamental symmetric stretch and the bending overtone of methylene, and (2) a chiral contribution by an intramolecular helical arrangement of carbonyl and peptide groups. We have used polarization modulated second harmonic generation and sum frequency generation imaging to investigate the spatial distribution of molecules in protein films and biological structures. We introduce a new image processing approach, spectral moment invariants, which quantifies texture in images. We then use the spectral moment invariants to discriminate between normal and damaged collageneous tissue imaged by polarization modulated second harmonic generation imaging. A detailed experimental study has been performed on spinal disk injuries, and it has been shown that the quantification of tissue disorder with spectral moment invariants correlates well with the degree of tissue deterioration. This finding demonstrates the potential clinical application of polarization modulated second harmonic imaging to detect extracellular related diseases.
Zeman, Frank; Castaldi, Marco
Producing liquid hydrocarbon fuels with a reduced greenhouse gas emissions profile would ease the transition to a carbon-neutral energy sector with the transportation industry being the immediate beneficiary followed by the power industry. Revolutionary solutions in transportation, such as electricity and hydrogen, depend on the deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies and/or renewable energy systems. Additionally, high oil prices may increase the development of unconventional sources, such as tar sands, that have a higher emissions profile. One process that is gaining interest is a system for producing reduced carbon fuels though chemical looping technologies. An investigation of the implications of such a process using methane and carbon dioxide that is reformed to yield methanol has been done. An important aspect of the investigation is the use of off-the-shelf technologies to achieve the results. The ability of the process to yield reduced emissions fuels depends on the source for the feed and process heat. For the range of conditions considered, the emissions profile of methanol produced in this method varies from 0.475 to 1.645 moles carbon dioxide per mole methanol. The upper bound can be lowered to 0.750 by applying CCS and/ or using nonfossil heat sources for the reforming. The process provides an initial pathway to incorporate CO2 into fuels independent of electrolytic hydrogen or developments in other sectors of the economy.
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.
Rothschild, Lynn J.
A turtle carries its own habitat. While it is reliable, it costs energy. NASA makes the same trade-off when it transports habitats and other structures needed to lunar and planetary surfaces increasing upmass, and affecting other mission goals. 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 it can replicate and repair itself, and do 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 could make possible the dream of producing bespoke tools, food, smart fabrics and even replacement organs on demand. Imagine what new products can be enabled by such a technology, on earth or beyond!
Cox, Robert Sidney
People who are engineering biological organisms often find it useful to communicate in diagrams, both about the structure of the nucleic acid sequences that they are engineering and about the functional relationships between sequence features and other molecular species. Some typical practices and conventions have begun to emerge for such diagrams. The Synthetic Biology Open Language Visual (SBOL Visual) has been developed as a standard for organizing and systematizing such conventions in order to produce a coherent language for expressing the structure and function of genetic designs. This document details version 2.0 of SBOL Visual, which builds on the prior SBOL Visual 1.0 standard by expanding diagram syntax to include functional interactions and molecular species, making the relationship between diagrams and the SBOL data model explicit, supporting families of symbol variants, clarifying a number of requirements and best practices, and significantly expanding the collection of diagram glyphs.
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…
Wallach, Wendell; Saner, Marc; Marchant, Gary
For many innovations, oversight fits nicely within existing governance mechanisms; nevertheless, others pose unique public health, environmental, and ethical challenges. Synthetic artemisinin, for example, has many precursors in laboratory-developed drugs that emulate natural forms of the same drug. The policy challenges posed by synthetic artemisinin do not differ significantly in kind from other laboratory-formulated drugs. Synthetic biofuels and gene drives, however, fit less clearly into existing governance structures. How many of the new categories of products require new forms of regulatory oversight, or at least extensive forms of testing, remains unclear. Any effort to improve the governance of synthetic biology should start with a rich understanding of the different possible science-policy interfaces that could help to inform governance. CBA falls into a subset of the overall range of possibilities, and which interface is appropriate may turn out to depend on context, on the demands of the decision at hand. In what follows, we lay out a typology of interfaces. After that, we turn to the question of how to draw upon the range of possible interfaces and effectively address the factual and moral complexities of emerging technologies. We propose a governance model built around structures that we call "governance coordinating committees." GCCs are intended to be mechanisms for accommodating the complexities of innovations that have far-ranging societal impacts. The production of biofuels, for example, could contaminate water supplies and have a destructive environmental impact if not managed correctly. The introduction of a gene drive could have economic and environmental impacts that are not restricted to one nation. Forging appropriate means for determining and evaluating those societal impacts, to the best of a corporation's, industry's, or government's ability, is central to responsible research and innovation. Public policy must be shaped in a manner that
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and axial spondyloarthritis (ax SpA) are chronic inflammatory diseases mainly involving the axial skeleton. Pharmacological treatments for AS and ax SpA usually include local glucocorticoid injections, NSAIDs and anti-TNFα agents. Since around 30% to 40% of patients are non responders or intolerant to anti-TNFα agents, we need new therapeutic options for AS and ax SpA. Areas covered: This review describes the new biological agents that can be used or are in development for AS or ax SpA as well as emerging synthetic targeted drugs. Expert opinion: Based on the rationale of the involvement of the IL-23/Th17 axis in AS, novel biological agents have been developed and include secukinumab, an anti-IL-17A agent and ustekinumab, an anti-IL-23 antibody. New compounds in the class of synthetic drugs are apremilast, a PDE4 inhibitor, and inhibitors of kinase pathways. Secukinumab gave positive results in the treatment of AS. Ustekinumab yielded promising results in AS in an open labeled study. Apremilast is not effective in AS while results with kinase inhibitors are preliminary. Future studies will clarify the place of secukinumab in the therapeutic management of AS, its influence on radiographic progression and its effects on the non radiographic form of the disease.
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.
Kim, Se Hyeuk; Cavaleiro, Ana Mafalda; Rennig, Maja; Nørholm, Morten H H
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 isothermal assembly, uracil excision cloning, and a nicking enzyme-based methodology we term SEVA cloning. SEVA cloning is a simplistic one-tube protocol for backbone swapping directly from plasmid stock solutions. We demonstrate the different performance of 30 plasmid backbones for small molecule and protein production and obtain more than 10-fold improvement from a four-gene biosynthetic pathway and 430-fold improvement with a difficult-to-express membrane protein. The standardized linkers and protocols add to the Standard European Vectors Architecture (SEVA) resource and are freely available to the synthetic biology community.
Barah, Pankaj; Bones, Atle M
The biggest challenge for modern biology is to integrate multidisciplinary approaches towards understanding the organizational and functional complexity of biological systems at different hierarchies, starting from the subcellular molecular mechanisms (microscopic) to the functional interactions of ecological communities (macroscopic). The plant-insect interaction is a good model for this purpose with the availability of an enormous amount of information at the molecular and the ecosystem levels. Changing global climatic conditions are abruptly resetting plant-insect interactions. Integration of discretely located heterogeneous information from the ecosystem to genes and pathways will be an advantage to understand the complexity of plant-insect interactions. This review will present the recent developments in omics-based high-throughput experimental approaches, with particular emphasis on studying plant defence responses against insect attack. The review highlights the importance of using integrative systems approaches to study plant-insect interactions from the macroscopic to the microscopic level. We analyse the current efforts in generating, integrating and modelling multiomics data to understand plant-insect interaction at a systems level. As a future prospect, we highlight the growing interest in utilizing the synthetic biology platform for engineering insect-resistant plants. © 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.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration — NASA ARC and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) collaborated to investigate the development of advanced microbial fuels cells (MFCs) for biological wastewater...
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.
Weinberger, Barry; Hanna, Nazeeh; Laskin, Jeffrey D.; Heck, Diane E.; Gardner, Carol R.; Gerecke, Donald R.; Laskin, Debra L.
The accumulation of neutrophils at sites of tissue injury or infection is mediated by chemotactic factors released as part of the inflammatory process. Some of these factors are generated as a direct consequence of tissue injury or infection, including degradation fragments of connective tissue collagen and bacterial- or viral-derived peptides containing collagen-related structural motifs. In these studies, we examined biochemical mechanisms mediating the biologic activity of synthetic polypeptides consisting of repeated units of proline (Pro), glycine (Gly), and hydroxyproline (Hyp), major amino acids found within mammalian and bacterial collagens. We found that the peptides were chemoattractants for neutrophils. Moreover, their chemotactic potency was directly related to their size and composition. Thus, the pentameric peptides (Pro-Pro-Gly)5 and (Pro-Hyp-Gly)5 were more active in inducing chemotaxis than the corresponding decameric peptides (Pro-Pro-Gly)10 and (Pro-Hyp-Gly)10. In addition, the presence of Hyp in peptides reduced chemotactic activity. The synthetic peptides were also found to reduce neutrophil apoptosis. In contrast to chemotaxis, this activity was independent of peptide size or composition. The effects of the peptides on both chemotaxis and apoptosis were blocked by inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase. However, only (Pro-Pro-Gly)5 and (Pro-Pro-Gly)10 induced expression of PI3-K and phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase, suggesting a potential mechanism underlying reduced chemotactic activity of Hyp-containing peptides. Although none of the synthetic peptides tested had any effect on intracellular calcium mobilization, each induced nuclear binding activity of the transcription factor NF-κB. These findings indicate that polymeric polypeptides containing Gly-X-Y collagen-related structural motifs promote inflammation by inducing chemotaxis and blocking apoptosis. However, distinct calcium
Christopher L Cummings
Full Text Available 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.
Fang, Wan-Yin; Dahiya, Rajiv; Qin, Hua-Li; Mourya, Rita; Maharaj, Sandeep
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.
Tien, Shin-Ming; Hsu, Chih-Yuan; Chen, Bor-Sen
Bacteria navigate environments full of various chemicals to seek favorable places for survival by controlling the flagella's rotation using a complicated signal transduction pathway. By influencing the pathway, bacteria can be engineered to search for specific molecules, which has great potential for application to biomedicine and bioremediation. In this study, genetic circuits were constructed to make bacteria search for a specific molecule at particular concentrations in their environment through a synthetic biology method. In addition, by replacing the "brake component" in the synthetic circuit with some specific sensitivities, the bacteria can be engineered to locate areas containing specific concentrations of the molecule. Measured by the swarm assay qualitatively and microfluidic techniques quantitatively, the characteristics of each "brake component" were identified and represented by a mathematical model. Furthermore, we established another mathematical model to anticipate the characteristics of the "brake component". Based on this model, an abundant component library can be established to provide adequate component selection for different searching conditions without identifying all components individually. Finally, a systematic design procedure was proposed. Following this systematic procedure, one can design a genetic circuit for bacteria to rapidly search for and locate different concentrations of particular molecules by selecting the most adequate "brake component" in the library. Moreover, following simple procedures, one can also establish an exclusive component library suitable for other cultivated environments, promoter systems, or bacterial strains.
Valentin, Jolene E; Freytes, Donald O; Grasman, Jonathan M; Pesyna, Colin; Freund, John; Gilbert, Thomas W; Badylak, Stephen F
Scaffolds for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications are commonly manufactured from synthetic materials, intact or isolated components of extracellular matrix (ECM), or a combination of such materials. After surgical implantation, the metabolic requirements of cells that populate the scaffold depend upon adequate gas and nutrient exchange with the surrounding microenvironment. The present study measured the oxygen transfer through three biologic scaffold materials composed of ECM including small intestinal submucosa (SIS), urinary bladder submucosa (UBS), and urinary bladder matrix (UBM), and one synthetic biomaterial, Dacron. The oxygen diffusivity was calculated from Fick's first law of diffusion. Each material permitted measurable oxygen diffusion. The diffusivity of SIS was found to be dependent on the direction of oxygen transfer; the oxygen transfer in the abluminal-to-luminal direction was significantly greater than the luminal-to-abluminal direction. The oxygen diffusivity of UBM and UBS were similar despite the presence of an intact basement membrane on the luminal surface of UBM. Dacron showed oxygen diffusivity values seven times greater than the ECM biomaterials. The current study showed that each material has unique oxygen diffusivity values, and these values may be dependent on the scaffold's ultrastructure.
Full Text Available Bacteria navigate environments full of various chemicals to seek favorable places for survival by controlling the flagella's rotation using a complicated signal transduction pathway. By influencing the pathway, bacteria can be engineered to search for specific molecules, which has great potential for application to biomedicine and bioremediation. In this study, genetic circuits were constructed to make bacteria search for a specific molecule at particular concentrations in their environment through a synthetic biology method. In addition, by replacing the "brake component" in the synthetic circuit with some specific sensitivities, the bacteria can be engineered to locate areas containing specific concentrations of the molecule. Measured by the swarm assay qualitatively and microfluidic techniques quantitatively, the characteristics of each "brake component" were identified and represented by a mathematical model. Furthermore, we established another mathematical model to anticipate the characteristics of the "brake component". Based on this model, an abundant component library can be established to provide adequate component selection for different searching conditions without identifying all components individually. Finally, a systematic design procedure was proposed. Following this systematic procedure, one can design a genetic circuit for bacteria to rapidly search for and locate different concentrations of particular molecules by selecting the most adequate "brake component" in the library. Moreover, following simple procedures, one can also establish an exclusive component library suitable for other cultivated environments, promoter systems, or bacterial strains.
Amores, Gerardo Ruiz; Guazzaroni, María-Eugenia; Arruda, Letícia Magalhães; Silva-Rocha, Rafael
Filamentous fungi are remarkable organisms naturally specialized in deconstructing plant biomass and this feature has a tremendous potential for biofuel production from renewable sources. The past decades have been marked by a remarkable progress in the genetic engineering of fungi to generate industry-compatible strains needed for some biotech applications. In this sense, progress in this field has been marked by the utilization of high-throughput techniques to gain deep understanding of the molecular machinery controlling the physiology of these organisms, starting thus the Systems Biology era of fungi. Additionally, genetic engineering has been extensively applied to modify wellcharacterized promoters in order to construct new expression systems with enhanced performance under the conditions of interest. In this review, we discuss some aspects related to significant progress in the understating and engineering of fungi for biotechnological applications, with special focus on the construction of synthetic promoters and circuits in organisms relevant for industry. Different engineering approaches are shown, and their potential and limitations for the construction of complex synthetic circuits in these organisms are examined. Finally, we discuss the impact of engineered promoter architecture in the single-cell behavior of the system, an often-neglected relationship with a tremendous impact in the final performance of the process of interest. We expect to provide here some new directions to drive future research directed to the construction of high-performance, engineered fungal strains working as microbial cell factories.
Presley, B C; Gurney, S M R; Scott, K S; Kacinko, S L; Logan, B K
Synthetic cannabinoids, which began proliferating in the United States in 2009, have gone through numerous iterations of modification to their chemical structures. More recent generations of compounds have been associated with significant adverse outcomes following use, including cognitive and psychomotor impairment, seizures, psychosis, tissue injury and death. These effects increase the urgency for forensic and public health laboratories to develop methods for the detection and identification of novel substances, and apply these to the determination of their metabolism and disposition in biological samples. This comprehensive review describes the history of the appearance of the drugs in the United States, discusses the naming conventions emerging to designate new structures, and describes the most prominent new compounds linked to the adverse effects now associated with their use. We review in depth the metabolic pathways that have been elucidated for the major members of each of the prevalent synthetic cannabinoid drug subclasses, the enzyme systems responsible for their metabolism, and the use of in silico approaches to assist in predicting and identifying the metabolites of novel compounds and drug subclasses that will continue to appear. Finally, we review and critique analytical methods applied to the detection of the drugs and their metabolites, including immunoassay screening, and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry confirmatory techniques applied to urine, serum, whole blood, oral fluid, hair, and tissues. Copyright © 2016 Central Police University.
Zerbe, Philipp; Bohlmann, Jörg
Ambrox and related ambroxides are highly priced in the fragrance industry, and valued for their delicate odor and fixative properties. Historically, ambrox was obtained from ambergris, a waxy excretion produced by sperm whales, now an endangered species. Synthetic ambroxides have replaced ambergris in perfume manufacture. Plant labdane diterpenoids can serve as starting material for ambroxide synthesis. Among these, the diterpene alcohol sclareol is the major industrial precursor obtained from cultivated clary sage (Salvia sclarea). In plants, a large family of diterpene synthase (diTPS) enzymes controls key reactions in diterpenoid biosynthesis. Advanced metabolite profiling and high-throughput sequencing of fragrant and medicinal plants have accelerated discovery of novel diTPS functions, providing a resource for combinatorial synthetic biology and metabolic engineering approaches. This chapter highlights recent progress on the discovery, characterization, and engineering of plant diTPSs with potential uses in ambroxide production. It features biosynthesis of sclareol, cis-abienol, and diterpene resin acids, as sources of genes and enzymes for diterpenoid bioproducts.
Smanski, Michael J.; Zhou, Hui; Claesen, Jan; Shen, Ben; Fischbach, Michael; Voigt, Christopher A.
Bacterial genomes encode the biosynthetic potential to produce hundreds of thousands of complex molecules with diverse applications, from medicine to agriculture and materials. Economically accessing the potential encoded within sequenced genomes promises to reinvigorate waning drug discovery pipelines and provide novel routes to intricate chemicals. This is a tremendous undertaking, as the pathways often comprise dozens of genes spanning as much as 100+ kiliobases of DNA, are controlled by complex regulatory networks, and the most interesting molecules are made by non-model organisms. Advances in synthetic biology address these issues, including DNA construction technologies, genetic parts for precision expression control, synthetic regulatory circuits, computer aided design, and multiplexed genome engineering. Collectively, these technologies are moving towards an era when chemicals can be accessed en mass based on sequence information alone. This will enable the harnessing of metagenomic data and massive strain banks for high-throughput molecular discovery and, ultimately, the ability to forward design pathways to complex chemicals not found in nature. PMID:26876034
Moore, Simon J; Lai, Hung-En; Needham, Hannah; Polizzi, Karen M; Freemont, Paul S
Streptomyces venezuelae is a promising chassis in synthetic biology for fine chemical and secondary metabolite pathway engineering. The potential of S. venezuelae could be further realized by expanding its capability with the introduction of its own in vitro transcription-translation (TX-TL) system. TX-TL is a fast and expanding technology for bottom-up design of complex gene expression tools, biosensors and protein manufacturing. Herein, we introduce a S. venezuelae TX-TL platform by reporting a streamlined protocol for cell-extract preparation, demonstrating high-yield synthesis of a codon-optimized sfGFP reporter and the prototyping of a synthetic tetracycline-inducible promoter in S. venezuelae TX-TL based on the tetO-TetR repressor system. The aim of this system is to provide a host for the homologous production of exotic enzymes from Actinobacteria secondary metabolism in vitro. As an example, the authors demonstrate the soluble synthesis of a selection of enzymes (12-70 kDa) from the Streptomyces rimosus oxytetracycline pathway. © 2017 The Authors. Biotechnology Journal published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Whitaker, William B; Sandoval, Nicholas R; Bennett, Robert K; Fast, Alan G; Papoutsakis, Eleftherios T
Synthetic methylotrophy is the development of non-native methylotrophs that can utilize methane and methanol as sole carbon and energy sources or as co-substrates with carbohydrates to produce metabolites as biofuels and chemicals. The availability of methane (from natural gas) and its oxidation product, methanol, has been increasing, while prices have been decreasing, thus rendering them as attractive fermentation substrates. As they are more reduced than most carbohydrates, methane and methanol, as co-substrates, can enhance the yields of biologically produced metabolites. Here we discuss synthetic biology and metabolic engineering strategies based on the native biology of aerobic methylotrophs for developing synthetic strains grown on methanol, with Escherichia coli as the prototype. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Peeters, Ellen; van Barneveld, Kevin W Y; Schreinemacher, Marc H; De Hertogh, Gert; Ozog, Yves; Bouvy, Nicole; Miserez, Marc
Long-term efficacy of biological and synthetic bioabsorbable meshes for large hernia repair is currently unclear. This rabbit study is aimed at investigating 1-y outcome of biological and synthetic bioabsorbable meshes for augmentation of large abdominal wall defects. In 46 rabbits, an 11 × 4 cm, full-thickness abdominal wall defect was repaired primarily, or with cross-linked (Permacol, Collamend) or non-cross-linked (Surgisis 4-ply, Surgisis Biodesign) biological, synthetic bioabsorbable (GORE BIO-A Tissue Reinforcement [TR], TIGR Matrix Surgical Mesh [MSM]), or polypropylene (Bard Mesh) meshes, using the underlay augmentation technique. One year after surgery, primary outcome was recurrence; secondary outcomes were tensile strength, histologic degree of tissue remodeling, and intraabdominal adhesion formation. Only two Surgisis 4-ply animals (50%) presented with a recurrent hernia. All GORE BIO-A TR meshes were completely resorbed and, as after primary repair, well-organized connective tissue without inflammation was present, with moderate adhesion formation and sufficient tensile strength. Cross-linked biological and TIGR MSM meshes demonstrated highest tensile strength but were only partially incorporated, with similar foreign body reaction and adhesion formation as polypropylene meshes in the TIGR MSM group, and minimal degradation and moderate adhesion formation in the cross-linked biological group. In the non-cross-linked biological group sufficient tensile strength and moderate adhesion formation were found, with pronounced inflammation if mesh remnants were present. Synthetic bioabsorbable GORE BIO-A TR meshes were associated with optimal tissue remodeling, with complete resorption, presence of well-organized tissue, and no inflammation. However, mesh augmentation had no advantages regarding recurrence rate versus primary repair of large abdominal wall defects. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Poliner, Eric; Farré, Eva M; Benning, Christoph
Nannochloropsis is a genus of fast-growing microalgae that are regularly used for biotechnology applications. Nannochloropsis species have a high triacylglycerol content and their polar lipids are rich in the omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid. Placed in the heterokont lineage, the Nannochloropsis genus has a complex evolutionary history. Genome sequences are available for several species, and a number of transcriptomic datasets have been produced, making this genus a facile model for comparative genomics. There is a growing interest in Nannochloropsis species as models for the study of microalga lipid metabolism and as a chassis for synthetic biology. Recently, techniques for gene stacking, and targeted gene disruption and repression in the Nannochloropsis genus have been developed. These tools enable gene-specific, mechanistic studies and have already allowed the engineering of improved Nannochloropsis strains with superior growth, or greater bioproduction.
Schmidt, Markus; Meyer, Angela; Cserer, Amelie
Synthetic biology (SB) is a new techno-scientific field surrounded by an aura of hope, hype and fear. Currently it is difficult to predict which way the public debate - and thus the social shaping of technology - is heading. With limited hard evidence at hand, we resort to a strategy that takes into account speculative design and diegetic prototyping, accessing the Bio:Fiction science film festival, and its 52 short films from international independent filmmakers. Our first hypothesis was that these films could be used as an indicator of a public debate to come. The second hypothesis was that SB would most likely not follow the debate around genetic engineering (framing technology as conflict) as assumed by many observers. Instead, we found good evidence for two alternative comparators, namely nanotechnology (technology as progress) and information technology (technology as gadget) as stronger attractors for an upcoming public debate on SB. © The Author(s) 2013.
Bober, Josef R; Beisel, Chase L; Nair, Nikhil U
An increasing number of studies have strongly correlated the composition of the human microbiota with many human health conditions and, in several cases, have shown that manipulating the microbiota directly affects health. These insights have generated significant interest in engineering indigenous microbiota community members and nonresident probiotic bacteria as biotic diagnostics and therapeutics that can probe and improve human health. In this review, we discuss recent advances in synthetic biology to engineer commensal and probiotic lactic acid bacteria, bifidobacteria, and Bacteroides for these purposes, and we provide our perspective on the future potential of these technologies. 277 Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering Volume 20 is June 4, 2018. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
Tanaka, Tsutomu; Kondo, Akihiko
In yeast cell-surface displays, functional proteins, such as cellulases, are genetically fused to an anchor protein and expressed on the cell surface. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is often utilized as a cell factory for the production of fuels, chemicals, and proteins, is the most commonly used yeast for cell-surface display. To construct yeast cells with a desired function, such as the ability to utilize cellulose as a substrate for bioethanol production, cell-surface display techniques for the efficient expression of enzymes on the cell membrane need to be combined with metabolic engineering approaches for manipulating target pathways within cells. In this Minireview, we summarize the recent progress of biorefinery fields in the development and application of yeast cell-surface displays from a synthetic biology perspective and discuss approaches for further enhancing cell-surface display efficiency. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com.
Mays, Zachary Js; Nair, Nikhil U
The trillions of microbes hosted by humans can dictate health or illness depending on a multitude of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that help define the human ecosystem. As the human microbiota is characterized, so can the interconnectivity of microbe-host-disease be realized and manipulated. Designing microbes as therapeutic agents can not only enable targeted drug delivery but also restore homeostasis within a perturbed microbial community. Used for centuries in fermentation and preservation of food, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have a long history of safe, and occasionally health promoting, interactions with the human gut, making them ideal candidates for engineered functionality. This review outlines available genetic tools, recent developments in biomedical applications, as well as potential future applications of synthetic biology to program LAB-based therapeutic systems. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Benner, Steven A; Hutter, Daniel; Sismour, A Michael
Over 15 years ago, the Benner group noticed that the DNA alphabet need not be limited to the four standard nucleotides known in natural DNA. Rather, twelve nucleobases forming six base pairs joined by mutually exclusive hydrogen bonding patterns are possible within the geometry of the Watson-Crick pair (Fig. 1). Synthesis and studies on these compounds have brought us to the threshold of a synthetic biology, an artificial chemical system that does basic processes needed for life (in particular, Darwinian evolution), but with unnatural chemical structures. At the same time, the artificial genetic information systems (AEGIS) that we have developed have been used in FDA-approved commercial tests for managing HIV and hepatitis C infections in individual patients, and in a tool that seeks the virus for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). AEGIS also supports the next generation of robotic probes to search for genetic molecules on Mars, Europa, and elsewhere where NASA probes will travel.
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.
Rennig, Maja; Andersen, Mikael Rørdam
such sustainable alternative if converted into so-called microbial cell factories. Instead of crude oil, cell factories use renewable resources or waste products as source material. The challenge is, however, that microbial production needs to be economically feasible to compete with the classical chemical...... devices and their fusion to antibiotic selection markers enables subsequent selection of high-expressing constructs. The approach is a simple and inexpensive alternative to advanced screening techniques. In addition, a second synthetic biology approach provides the means for fast and efficient plasmid......Society’s strong dependence on fossil fuels and petroleum-based products leads not only to a rapid decline of natural oil reserves but contributes massively to global warming and environmental damage. This consequently urges society to look into more sustainable alternatives. Microorganisms present...
Davis, René Michele; Muller, Ryan Yue; Haynes, Karmella Ann
Quorum-sensing networks enable bacteria to sense and respond to chemical signals produced by neighboring bacteria. They are widespread: over 100 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.
Wang, Chonglong; Zada, Bakht; Wei, Gongyuan; Kim, Seon-Won
Isoprenoids comprise the largest family of natural organic compounds with many useful applications in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and industrial fields. Rapid developments in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology have facilitated the engineering of isoprenoid biosynthetic pathways in Escherichia coli to induce high levels of production of many different isoprenoids. In this review, the stem pathways for synthesizing isoprene units as well as the branch pathways deriving diverse isoprenoids from the isoprene units have been summarized. The review also highlights the metabolic engineering efforts made for the biosynthesis of hemiterpenoids, monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, diterpenoids, carotenoids, retinoids, and coenzyme Q 10 in E. coli. Perspectives and future directions for the synthesis of novel isoprenoids, decoration of isoprenoids using cytochrome P450 enzymes, and secretion or storage of isoprenoids in E. coli have also been included. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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....
Domínguez, Martí; Mateu, Anna; Torgersen, Helge; Porcar, Manuel
How do scientists perceive the media coverage of synthetic biology (SB)? In this paper, we approach this question by studying a set of cartoons devoted to SB. Based on a categorization of the cartoons into five large thematic groups an international survey was carried out to assess the opinion of SB research groups on science communication with regard to the public image of their discipline. The 101 responses obtained indicate that in general, their perception of the communication is not negative, although many respondents raised concerns on the media's inclination to sensationalism and over-simplification. However, the results also suggest that (in the light of the unfortunate experiences with GMO communication) scientists should think twice before proposing metaphorical interpretations of their research.
Kang, Zhen; Zhang, Junli; Jin, Peng; Yang, Sen
Owing to our limited understanding of the relationship between sequence and function and the interaction between intracellular pathways and regulatory systems, the rational design of enzyme-coding genes and de novo assembly of a brand-new artificial genome for a desired functionality or phenotype are difficult to achieve. As an alternative approach, directed evolution has been widely used to engineer genomes and enzyme-coding genes. In particular, significant developments toward DNA synthesis, DNA assembly (in vitro or in vivo), recombination-mediated genetic engineering, and high-throughput screening techniques in the field of synthetic biology have been matured and widely adopted, enabling rapid semi-rational genome engineering to generate variants with desired properties. In this commentary, these novel tools and their corresponding applications in the directed evolution of genomes and enzymes are discussed. Moreover, the strategies for genome engineering and rapid in vitro enzyme evolution are also proposed.
Phelan, Ryan M. [Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBEI), Emeryville, CA (United States); Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). QB3 Inst.; Sachs, Daniel [Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBEI), Emeryville, CA (United States); Petkiewicz, Shayne J. [Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBEI), Emeryville, CA (United States); Barajas, Jesus F. [Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBEI), Emeryville, CA (United States); Blake-Hedges, Jacquelyn M. [Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Chemistry; Thompson, Mitchell G. [Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Plant & Microbial Biology; Reider Apel, Amanda [Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBEI), Emeryville, CA (United States); Rasor, Blake J. [Miami Univ., Oxford, Ohio (United States). Dept. of Biology; Katz, Leonard [Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). QB3 Inst.; Keasling, Jay D. [Joint BioEnergy Inst. (JBEI), Emeryville, CA (United States); Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). QB3 Inst.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Bioengineering; Technical Univ. of Denmark, Kogle Alle (Denmark). Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability
Streptomyces have a rich history as producers of important natural products and this genus of bacteria has recently garnered attention for its potential applications in the broader context of synthetic biology. However, the dearth of genetic tools available to control and monitor protein production precludes rapid and predictable metabolic engineering that is possible in hosts such as Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In an effort to improve genetic tools for Streptomyces venezuelae, we developed a suite of standardized, orthogonal integration vectors and an improved method to monitor protein production in this host. These tools were applied to characterize heterologous promoters and various attB chromosomal integration sites. A final study leveraged the characterized toolset to demonstrate its use in producing the biofuel precursor bisabolene using a chromosomally integrated expression system. In conclusion, these tools advance S. venezuelae to be a practical host for future metabolic engineering efforts.
Kuk Lee, Sung; Chou, Howard; Ham, Timothy S.; Soon Lee, Taek; Keasling, Jay D.
The ability to generate microorganisms that can produce biofuels similar to petroleum-based transportation fuels would allow the use of existing engines and infrastructure and would save an enormous amount of capital required for replacing the current infrastructure to accommodate biofuels that have properties significantly different from petroleum-based fuels. Several groups have demonstrated the feasibility of manipulating microbes to produce molecules similar to petroleum-derived products, albeit at relatively low productivity (e.g. maximum butanol production is around 20 g/L). For cost-effective production of biofuels, the fuel-producing hosts and pathways must be engineered and optimized. Advances in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology will provide new tools for metabolic engineers to better understand how to rewire the cell in order to create the desired phenotypes for the production of economically viable biofuels.
M. V. Ermoshchenkova
Full Text Available Introduction. In recent years, considerable success has been achieved in complex and combined treatment of breast cancer (BC. Reconstructive plastic surgery plays an important role in the rehabilitation of patients with breast cancer and it is currently considered as the causal treatment of mental disorders caused by loss of femininity and integrity of one’s own body. One-step breast reconstruction for cancer treatment makes it possible to use supplementary materials — synthetic and biological implants that can replace muscle autografts and thereby reduce trauma, blood loss, operation time, and thereby help to avoid the defect of donor areas. The authors describe the state of the art at present and demonstrate the results of their own research.Materials and methods. The object of study was 38 of breast cancer cases and 1 case of multiple gelioma caused by silicone implant rupture. 44 operations have been completed: 21 — radical subcutaneous mastectomy, 1 — subcutaneous mastectomy, 17 — skin-sparing radical mastectomy with one-step reconstruction with mesh implant (12 — titanium, 16 — polyester, 11 — acellular dermal matrix Permacol, 5 — prophylactic contralateral subcutaneous mastectomy with one-step reconstruction with silicone implant and a mesh implant due to a mutation of the BRCA1 gene. The technique of operations and the results of studies have been described in detail.Results. In the late post-operational period, the implants were removed in 5 cases: in 2 patients due to the development of inflammation of ADM, 3 — in connection with the development of bedsores and diastasis of the skin in the wound area when synthetic implants were used. From the total number of patients in the group (n = 39 excellent cosmetic results were reported in 21 cases (54%, good — in 13 (33% and unsatisfactory — in 5 (13% cases due to the removal of the implants.Conclusions. Biological and synthetic materials are significantly important
Firman, Keith; Evans, Luke; Youell, James
This review describes a European-funded project in the area of Synthetic Biology. The project seeks to demonstrate the application of engineering techniques and methodologies to the design and construction of a biosensor for detecting drug-target interactions at the single-molecule level. Production of the proteins required for the system followed the principle of previously described "bioparts" concepts (a system where a database of biological parts - promoters, genes, terminators, linking tags and cleavage sequences - is used to construct novel gene assemblies) and cassette-type assembly of gene expression systems (the concept of linking different "bioparts" to produce functional "cassettes"), but problems were quickly identified with these approaches. DNA substrates for the device were also constructed using a cassette-system. Finally, micro-engineering was used to build a magnetoresistive Magnetic Tweezer device for detection of single molecule DNA modifying enzymes (motors), while the possibility of constructing a Hall Effect version of this device was explored. The device is currently being used to study helicases from Plasmodium as potential targets for anti-malarial drugs, but we also suggest other potential uses for the device. Copyright © 2012 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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. © 2016 The Author(s).
Schuler, Mara L; Mantegazza, Otho; Weber, Andreas P M
C4 photosynthetic plants outperform C3 plants in hot and arid climates. By concentrating carbon dioxide around Rubisco C4 plants drastically reduce photorespiration. The frequency with which plants evolved C4 photosynthesis independently challenges researchers to unravel the genetic mechanisms underlying this convergent evolutionary switch. The conversion of C3 crops, such as rice, towards C4 photosynthesis is a long-standing goal. Nevertheless, at the present time, in the age of synthetic biology, this still remains a monumental task, partially because the C4 carbon-concentrating biochemical cycle spans two cell types and thus requires specialized anatomy. Here we review the advances in understanding the molecular basis and the evolution of the C4 trait, advances in the last decades that were driven by systems biology methods. In this review we emphasise essential genetic engineering tools needed to translate our theoretical knowledge into engineering approaches. With our current molecular understanding of the biochemical C4 pathway, we propose a simplified rational engineering model exclusively built with known C4 metabolic components. Moreover, we discuss an alternative approach to the progressing international engineering attempts that would combine targeted mutagenesis and directed evolution. © 2016 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Immethun, Cheryl M; DeLorenzo, Drew M; Focht, Caroline M; Gupta, Dinesh; Johnson, Charles B; Moon, Tae Seok
Many under-developed organisms possess important traits that can boost the effectiveness and sustainability of microbial biotechnology. Photoautotrophic cyanobacteria can utilize the energy captured from light to fix carbon dioxide for their metabolic needs while living in environments not suited for growing crops. Various value-added compounds have been produced by cyanobacteria in the laboratory; yet, the products' titers and yields are often not industrially relevant and lag behind what have been accomplished in heterotrophic microbes. Genetic tools for biological process control are needed to take advantage of cyanobacteria's beneficial qualities, as tool development also lags behind what has been created in common heterotrophic hosts. To address this problem, we developed a suite of sensors that regulate transcription in the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 in response to metabolically relevant signals, including light and the cell's nitrogen status, and a family of sensors that respond to the inexpensive chemical, l-arabinose. Increasing the number of available tools enables more complex and precise control of gene expression. Expanding the synthetic biology toolbox for this cyanobacterium also improves our ability to utilize this important under-developed organism in biotechnology. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;114: 1561-1569. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
McLaughlin, James Alastair; Myers, Chris J; Zundel, Zach; Mısırlı, Göksel; Zhang, Michael; Ofiteru, Irina Dana; Goñi-Moreno, Angel; Wipat, Anil
The SynBioHub repository ( https://synbiohub.org ) is an open-source software project that facilitates the sharing of information about engineered biological systems. SynBioHub provides computational access for software and data integration, and a graphical user interface that enables users to search for and share designs in a Web browser. By connecting to relevant repositories (e.g., the iGEM repository, JBEI ICE, and other instances of SynBioHub), the software allows users to browse, upload, and download data in various standard formats, regardless of their location or representation. SynBioHub also provides a central reference point for other resources to link to, delivering design information in a standardized format using the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL). The adoption and use of SynBioHub, a community-driven effort, has the potential to overcome the reproducibility challenge across laboratories by helping to address the current lack of information about published designs.
Sung, Bong Hyun; Choe, Donghui; Kim, Sun Chang; Cho, Byung-Kwan
Microbial diversity and complexity pose challenges in understanding the voluminous genetic information produced from whole-genome sequences, bioinformatics and high-throughput '-omics' research. These challenges can be overcome by a core blueprint of a genome drawn with a minimal gene set, which is essential for life. Systems biology and large-scale gene inactivation studies have estimated the number of essential genes to be ∼300-500 in many microbial genomes. On the basis of the essential gene set information, minimal-genome strains have been generated using sophisticated genome engineering techniques, such as genome reduction and chemical genome synthesis. Current size-reduced genomes are not perfect minimal genomes, but chemically synthesized genomes have just been constructed. Some minimal genomes provide various desirable functions for bioindustry, such as improved genome stability, increased transformation efficacy and improved production of biomaterials. The minimal genome as a chassis genome for synthetic biology can be used to construct custom-designed genomes for various practical and industrial applications. © 2016 The Author(s). published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.
Thomas E Gorochowski
Full Text Available Large-scale collective behaviors such as synchronization and coordination spontaneously arise in many bacterial populations. With systems biology attempting to understand these phenomena, and synthetic biology opening up the possibility of engineering them for our own benefit, there is growing interest in how bacterial populations are best modeled. Here we introduce BSim, a highly flexible agent-based computational tool for analyzing the relationships between single-cell dynamics and population level features. BSim includes reference implementations of many bacterial traits to enable the quick development of new models partially built from existing ones. Unlike existing modeling tools, BSim fully considers spatial aspects of a model allowing for the description of intricate micro-scale structures, enabling the modeling of bacterial behavior in more realistic three-dimensional, complex environments. The new opportunities that BSim opens are illustrated through several diverse examples covering: spatial multicellular computing, modeling complex environments, population dynamics of the lac operon, and the synchronization of genetic oscillators. BSim is open source software that is freely available from http://bsim-bccs.sf.net and distributed under the Open Source Initiative (OSI recognized MIT license. Developer documentation and a wide range of example simulations are also available from the website. BSim requires Java version 1.6 or higher.
Full Text Available Abstract Background Within research each experiment is different, the focus changes and the data is generated from a continually evolving barrage of technologies. There is a continual introduction of new techniques whose usage ranges from in-house protocols through to high-throughput instrumentation. To support these requirements data management systems are needed that can be rapidly built and readily adapted for new usage. Results The adaptable data management system discussed is designed to support the seamless mining and analysis of biological experiment data that is commonly used in systems biology (e.g. ChIP-chip, gene expression, proteomics, imaging, flow cytometry. We use different content graphs to represent different views upon the data. These views are designed for different roles: equipment specific views are used to gather instrumentation information; data processing oriented views are provided to enable the rapid development of analysis applications; and research project specific views are used to organize information for individual research experiments. This management system allows for both the rapid introduction of new types of information and the evolution of the knowledge it represents. Conclusion Data management is an important aspect of any research enterprise. It is the foundation on which most applications are built, and must be easily extended to serve new functionality for new scientific areas. We have found that adopting a three-tier architecture for data management, built around distributed standardized content repositories, allows us to rapidly develop new applications to support a diverse user community.
Boyle, John; Rovira, Hector; Cavnor, Chris; Burdick, David; Killcoyne, Sarah; Shmulevich, Ilya
Background Within research each experiment is different, the focus changes and the data is generated from a continually evolving barrage of technologies. There is a continual introduction of new techniques whose usage ranges from in-house protocols through to high-throughput instrumentation. To support these requirements data management systems are needed that can be rapidly built and readily adapted for new usage. Results The adaptable data management system discussed is designed to support the seamless mining and analysis of biological experiment data that is commonly used in systems biology (e.g. ChIP-chip, gene expression, proteomics, imaging, flow cytometry). We use different content graphs to represent different views upon the data. These views are designed for different roles: equipment specific views are used to gather instrumentation information; data processing oriented views are provided to enable the rapid development of analysis applications; and research project specific views are used to organize information for individual research experiments. This management system allows for both the rapid introduction of new types of information and the evolution of the knowledge it represents. Conclusion Data management is an important aspect of any research enterprise. It is the foundation on which most applications are built, and must be easily extended to serve new functionality for new scientific areas. We have found that adopting a three-tier architecture for data management, built around distributed standardized content repositories, allows us to rapidly develop new applications to support a diverse user community. PMID:19265554
Ashry, O.M.; Kafafy, Y.A.; Salama, S.F.
This Study was conducted to determine the effect of the inevitable intake of synthetic colour additives in our everyday life and radiation exposure on the levels of some physiological parameters. Female rats were divided into: I- Control group. 2- Group administrated an azo dye mixture of tartrazine and brilliant blue orally for 2 weeks (100 mg/Kg body wt). 3- Group received gamma radiation of 5 Gy. 4- Animals received the dyes mixture for 2 weeks and irradiation. Rats were examined on the 1st, 3rd and 7th days post irradiation or dyes treatment followed by irradiation. Dyes treatment induced significant decreases in hemoglobin (Hb), hematocrit (Ht), red blood cells (RBCs), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity. Significant increases of plasma total proteins and albumin levels were recorded. No significant changes of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity, iron (Fe), cupper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) levels were noted. Irradiation induced significant decline in Hb, Ht, RBCs, Cu and Fe levels. Significant increases of glucose (7th day), uric acid (3rd and 7 days), total proteins (3rd day) levels, and ALT activity, while no changes were recorded in ALP, albumin or Zn levels. Dual treatment of irradiation and dyes aggravated the radiation-induced changes. Bearing in mind that safety concerns overweighed the approval of use of synthetic colors, the utilization of these colors in drug and food manufacturing should be limited to minimize the physiological disturbances and the risk concomitant to environmental oxidative stress. During the last decade, extensive studies on the use of colors in processed foods, drinks, drugs and cosmetics confirmed that they may act as xenobiotics (Guengerich, 1995). With the increasing awareness of possible health hazards associated with their use more attention has been focused on the biological
Maregesi, Sheila M; Hermans, Nina; Dhooghe, Liene; Cimanga, Kanyanga; Ferreira, Daneel; Pannecouque, Christophe; Vanden Berghe, Dirk A; Cos, Paul; Maes, Louis; Vlietinck, Arnold J; Apers, Sandra; Pieters, Luc
Elaeodendron schlechteranum (Loes.) Loes. is a shrub or tree belonging to the family Celastraceae. In Tanzania, in addition to ethnopharmacological claims in treating various non-infectious diseases, the root and stem bark powder is applied on septic wounds, and the leaf paste is used for treatment of boils and carbuncles. The aim of this study was to identify the putative active constituents of the plant. Dried and powdered root bark was extracted and subjected to bioassay-guided fractionation, based on antibacterial, antiparasitic and anti-HIV activity. Isolated compounds were identified by spectroscopic methods, and evaluated for biological activity. Bioassay-guided isolation led to the identification of tingenin B (22beta-hydroxytingenone) as the main antibacterial constituent. It was active against Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (IC(50)8)-4'-O-methylepigallocatechin. However, none of these showed anti-HIV activity. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article describes the development of various probes and immunogens for chemical-biological investigations of food flavonoids. We accomplished a large (gram)-scale asymmetric synthesis of a key intermediate, 5-aminopentyl deoxy epigallocatechin-3-gallate (APDOEGCg; 3), an analogue of green tea polyphenol EGCg, in which the key step was cationic cyclization utilizing neighboring group participation of the gallate carbonyl group. The synthetic APDOEGCg (3) was efficiently converted to a fluorescent probe 18 and an immunogen 19 by utilizing the high reactivity of the amine functional group. We confirmed the usefulness of these probes for imaging studies and the generation of antibodies, respectively. We also describe the efficient synthesis of a positron emission tomography (PET) probe [ 11 C]20 by incorporation of 11 C into EGCg (1), for which synthetic 4″-Me-EGCg (20) was utilized as an authentic sample. Our synthetic strategy was also applied for the practical synthesis of nobiletin (21), a polymethoxylated flavone from citrus. Synthetic nobiletin was readily converted to various probes by selective demethylation and incorporation of fluorescein, biotin or 11 C. These probes should be useful for a range of biological applications. Detailed examination of the mechanisms and further applications are in progress.
Colussi, Ilaria Anna
This paper deals with the emerging synthetic biology, its challenges and risks, and tries to design a model for the governance and regulation of the field. The model is called of "prudent vigilance" (inspired by the report about synthetic biology, drafted by the U.S. Presidential Commission on Bioethics, 2010), and it entails (a) an ongoing and periodically revised process of assessment and management of all the risks and concerns, and (b) the adoption of policies - taken through "hard law" and "soft law" sources - that are based on the principle of proportionality (among benefits and risks), on a reasonable balancing between different interests and rights at stake, and are oriented by a constitutional frame, which is represented by the protection of fundamental human rights emerging in the field of synthetic biology (right to life, right to health, dignity, freedom of scientific research, right to environment). After the theoretical explanation of the model, its operability is "checked", by considering its application with reference to only one specific risk brought up by synthetic biology - biosecurity risk, i.e. the risk of bioterrorism.
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
Sakellariou, Arthur; Senden, Tim J.; Sawkins, Tim J.; Knackstedt, Mark A.; Turner, Michael L.; Jones, Anthony C.; Saadatfar, Mohammad; Roberts, Ray J.; Limaye, Ajay; Arns, Christoph H.; Sheppard, Adrian P.; Sok, Rob M.
A fully integrated X-ray tomography facility with the ability to generate tomograms with 20483 voxels at 2 micron spatial resolution was built to satisfy the requirements of a virtual materials testing laboratory. The instrument comprises of a continuously pumped micro-focus X-ray gun, a milli-degree rotation stage and a high resolution and large field X-ray camera, configured in a cone beam geometry with a circular trajectory. The purpose of this facility is to routinely analyse and investigate real world biological, geological and synthetic materials at a scale in which the traditional domains of physics, chemistry, biology and geology merge. During the first 2 years of operation, approximately 4 Terabytes of data have been collected, processed and analysed, both as static and in some cases as composite dynamic data sets. This incorporates over 300 tomograms with 10243 voxels and 50 tomograms with 20483 voxels for a wide range of research fields. Specimens analysed include sedimentary rocks, soils, bone, soft tissue, ceramics, fibre-reinforced composites, foams, wood, paper, fossils, sphere packs, bio-morphs and small animals. In this paper, the exibility of the facility is highlighted with some prime examples.
Cappitelli, Francesca; Vicini, Silvia; Piaggio, Paolo; Abbruscato, Pamela; Princi, Elisabetta; Casadevall, Arturo; Nosanchuk, Joshua D; Zanardini, Elisabetta
The deterioration of synthetic polymers caused by biological process is usually evaluated by visual inspection and measuring physical effects. In contrast to this approach, we have applied vibrational spectroscopies to study the biodegradation of the synthetic resins. 29 synthetic resins used as paint binding media, including acrylic, alkyd and poly(vinyl acetate) polymers, were examined for potential susceptibility to fungal degradation using the standard method ASTM G21-96(2002). In addition, the degraded resins were analysed by Raman spectroscopy, FT-IR and FT-IR photoacoustic spectroscopy. Almost all the acrylic resins studied proved to be resistant to microbial attack, while all alkyd resins and some poly(vinyl acetates) turned out to be biodegradable. Within a few days of inoculation Aspergillus niger was the most copious fungus on the biodegraded resins. A comparison of the IR and Raman spectra of control and biodegraded resins did not show any differences, but photoacoustic spectroscopy revealed additional bands for the fungal-degraded resins, consistent with the presence of fungal-derived substances. The additional bands in the photoacoustic spectra were due to the presence of Aspergillus niger and melanin, a fungal pigment. Since IR photoacoustic spectroscopy can be also a suitable technique for the chemical characterisation of binding media, the same spectroscopic analysis can be employed to both characterise the material and obtain evidence for fungal colonization. Microbial growth on Sobral 1241ML (alkyd resin) after 28 d (growth rating 4) compared with the non-inoculated resin.
Grundulis, A.; Galins, A.; Grundulis, A.; Zihmane, K.
The application of vegetable oils as diesel-engine fuels is being discussed and investigated as a means of exploiting agricultural potential in the production of regenerative energy sources. Traditional vegetable oils transesterification using methanol or ethanol technology for biofuel production is complicate and expensive. We investigate different kind of oils and fuel additives mixtures and offer simplified technology for biofuel production. The work presents compare of energetic and physical parameters of rape-seed-oil methyl and ethyl ester and oil mixture (authors)
Bittner, James G; El-Hayek, Kevin; Strong, Andrew T; LaPinska, Melissa Phillips; Yoo, Jin S; Pauli, Eric M; Kroh, Matthew
Mesh options for reinforcement of ventral/incisional hernia (VIH) repair include synthetic or biologic materials. While each material has known advantages and disadvantages, little is understood about outcomes when these materials are used in combination. This multicenter study reports on the first human use of a novel synthetic/biologic hybrid mesh (Zenapro ® Hybrid Hernia Repair Device) for VIH repair. This prospective, multicenter post-market clinical trial enrolled consecutive adults who underwent elective VIH repair with hybrid mesh placed in the intraperitoneal or retromuscular/preperitoneal position. Patients were classified as Ventral Hernia Working Group (VHWG) grades 1-3 and had clean or clean-contaminated wounds. Outcomes of ventral and incisional hernia were compared using appropriate parametric tests. In all, 63 patients underwent VIH repair with hybrid mesh. Most were females (54.0%), had a mean age of 54.8 ± 10.9 years and mean body mass index of 34.5 ± 7.8 kg/m 2 , and classified as VHWG grade 2 (87.3%). Most defects were midline (92.1%) with a mean area of 106 ± 155 cm 2 . Cases were commonly classified as clean (92.1%) and were performed laparoscopically (60.3%). Primary fascial closure was achieved in 82.5% with 28.2% requiring component separation. Mesh location was frequently intraperitoneal (69.8%). Overall, 39% of patients available for follow-up at 12 months suffered surgical site events, which were generally more frequent after incisional hernia repair. Of these, seroma (23.7%) was most common, but few (8.5%) required procedural intervention. Other surgical site events that required procedural intervention included hematoma (1.7%), wound dehiscence (1.7%), and surgical site infection (3.4%). Recurrence rate was 6.8% (95% CI 2.2-16.6%) at 12-months postoperatively. Zenapro ® Hybrid Hernia Repair Device is safe and effective in VHWG grade 1-2 patients with clean wounds out to 12 months. Short-term outcomes and recurrence rate
Currin, Andrew; Swainston, Neil; Day, Philip J.
The amino acid sequence of a protein affects both its structure and its function. Thus, the ability to modify the sequence, and hence the structure and activity, of individual proteins in a systematic way, opens up many opportunities, both scientifically and (as we focus on here) for exploitation in biocatalysis. Modern methods of synthetic biology, whereby increasingly large sequences of DNA can be synthesised de novo, allow an unprecedented ability to engineer proteins with novel functions. However, the number of possible proteins is far too large to test individually, so we need means for navigating the ‘search space’ of possible protein sequences efficiently and reliably in order to find desirable activities and other properties. Enzymologists distinguish binding (K d) and catalytic (k cat) steps. In a similar way, judicious strategies have blended design (for binding, specificity and active site modelling) with the more empirical methods of classical directed evolution (DE) for improving k cat (where natural evolution rarely seeks the highest values), especially with regard to residues distant from the active site and where the functional linkages underpinning enzyme dynamics are both unknown and hard to predict. Epistasis (where the ‘best’ amino acid at one site depends on that or those at others) is a notable feature of directed evolution. The aim of this review is to highlight some of the approaches that are being developed to allow us to use directed evolution to improve enzyme properties, often dramatically. We note that directed evolution differs in a number of ways from natural evolution, including in particular the available mechanisms and the likely selection pressures. Thus, we stress the opportunities afforded by techniques that enable one to map sequence to (structure and) activity in silico, as an effective means of modelling and exploring protein landscapes. Because known landscapes may be assessed and reasoned about as a whole
Manoli, Kyriaki; Magliulo, Maria; Mulla, Mohammad Yusuf; Singh, Mandeep; Sabbatini, Luigia; Palazzo, Gerardo; Torsi, Luisa
Thin-film transistors can be used as high-performance bioelectronic devices to accomplish tasks such as sensing or controlling the release of biological species as well as transducing the electrical activity of cells or even organs, such as the brain. Organic, graphene, or zinc oxide are used as convenient printable semiconducting layers and can lead to high-performance low-cost bioelectronic sensing devices that are potentially very useful for point-of-care applications. Among others, electrolyte-gated transistors are of interest as they can be operated as capacitance-modulated devices, because of the high capacitance of their charge double layers. Specifically, it is the capacitance of the biolayer, being lowest in a series of capacitors, which controls the output current of the device. Such an occurrence allows for extremely high sensitivity towards very weak interactions. All the aspects governing these processes are reviewed here. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Lu, Hua; Wang, Jing; Song, Ziyuan; Yin, Lichen; Zhang, Yanfeng; Tang, Haoyu; Tu, Chunlai; Lin, Yao; Cheng, Jianjun
Polypeptides are fascinating materials with unique properties for various biological materials. We highlight here recent advances in amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides (NCAs) and synthetic polypeptides from the aspects of chemistry, self-assembly and biological applications. New synthetic methodologies, mechanistic studies and optimization of polymerization conditions for the preparation of well-defined novel polypeptides are comprehensively reviewed and evaluated. Functional polypeptides, mostly prepared from novel NCA monomers, with ultra-stable helical conformation, stimuli-sensitive properties, or glycoprotein mimetics are summarized. We also highlight a number of interesting self-assembled structures of polypeptides in solid state and solution, with particular emphasis on those structures other than amphiphilic self-assembly. The biological applications of polypeptides in drug and gene delivery are also reviewed. Future directions and perspectives are discussed in the conclusion.
Reen, F Jerry; Gutiérrez-Barranquero, José A; Dobson, Alan D W; Adams, Claire; O'Gara, Fergal
The vast oceans of the world, which comprise a huge variety of unique ecosystems, are emerging as a rich and relatively untapped source of novel bioactive compounds with invaluable biotechnological and pharmaceutical potential. Evidence accumulated over the last decade has revealed that the diversity of marine microorganisms is enormous with many thousands of bacterial species detected that were previously unknown. Associated with this diversity is the production of diverse repertoires of bioactive compounds ranging from peptides and enzymes to more complex secondary metabolites that have significant bioactivity and thus the potential to be exploited for innovative biotechnology. Here we review the discovery and functional potential of marine bioactive peptides such as lantibiotics, nanoantibiotics and peptidomimetics, which have received particular attention in recent years in light of their broad spectrum of bioactivity. The significance of marine peptides in cell-to-cell communication and how this may be exploited in the discovery of novel bioactivity is also explored. Finally, with the recent advances in bioinformatics and synthetic biology, it is becoming clear that the integration of these disciplines with genetic and biochemical characterization of the novel marine peptides, offers the most potential in the development of the next generation of societal solutions.
Full Text Available Natural products are among the most important sources of lead molecules for drug discovery. With the development of affordable whole-genome sequencing technologies and other ‘omics tools, the field of natural products research is currently undergoing a shift in paradigms. While, for decades, mainly analytical and chemical methods gave access to this group of compounds, nowadays genomics-based methods offer complementary approaches to find, identify and characterize such molecules. This paradigm shift also resulted in a high demand for computational tools to assist researchers in their daily work. In this context, this review gives a summary of tools and databases that currently are available to mine, identify and characterize natural product biosynthesis pathways and their producers based on ‘omics data. A web portal called Secondary Metabolite Bioinformatics Portal (SMBP at http://www.secondarymetabolites.org is introduced to provide a one-stop catalog and links to these bioinformatics resources. In addition, an outlook is presented how the existing tools and those to be developed will influence synthetic biology approaches in the natural products field.
Aznar-Moreno, Jose A; Durrett, Timothy P
The plant kingdom produces a variety of fatty acid structures, many of which possess functional groups useful for industrial applications. The species that produce these unusual fatty acids are often not suitable for large scale commercial production. The ability to create genetically modified plants, together with emerging synthetic biology approaches, offers the potential to develop alternative oil seed crops capable of producing high levels of modified lipids. In some cases, by combining genes from different species, non-natural lipids with a targeted structure can be conceived. However, the expression of the biosynthetic enzymes responsible for the synthesis of unusual fatty acids typically results in poor accumulation of the desired product. An improved understanding of fatty acid flux from synthesis to storage revealed that specialized enzymes are needed to traffic unusual fatty acids. Co-expression of some of these additional enzymes has incrementally increased the levels of unusual fatty acids in transgenic seeds. Understanding how the introduced pathways interact with the endogenous pathways will be important for further enhancing the levels of unusual fatty acids in transgenic plants. Eliminating endogenous activities, as well as segregating the different pathways, represent strategies to further increase accumulation of unusual lipids. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
You, Chun; Shi, Ting; Li, Yunjie; Han, Pingping; Zhou, Xigui; Zhang, Yi-Heng Percival
Myo-Inositol (vitamin B8) is widely used in the drug, cosmetic, and food & feed industries. Here, we present an in vitro non-fermentative enzymatic pathway that converts starch to inositol in one vessel. This in vitro pathway is comprised of four enzymes that operate without ATP or NAD + supplementation. All enzyme BioBricks are carefully selected from hyperthermophilic microorganisms, that is, alpha-glucan phosphorylase from Thermotoga maritima, phosphoglucomutase from Thermococcus kodakarensis, inositol 1-phosphate synthase from Archaeoglobus fulgidus, and inositol monophosphatase from T. maritima. They were expressed efficiently in high-density fermentation of Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) and easily purified by heat treatment. The four-enzyme pathway supplemented with two other hyperthermophilic enzymes (i.e., 4-α-glucanotransferase from Thermococcus litoralis and isoamylase from Sulfolobus tokodaii) converts branched or linear starch to inositol, accomplishing a very high product yield of 98.9 ± 1.8% wt./wt. This in vitro (aeration-free) biomanufacturing has been successfully operated on 20,000-L reactors. Less costly inositol would be widely added in heath food, low-end soft drink, and animal feed, and may be converted to other value-added biochemicals (e.g., glucarate). This biochemical is the first product manufactured by the in vitro synthetic biology platform on an industrial scale. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;114: 1855-1864. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Kalos, Michael; June, Carl H
Adoptive T cell transfer for cancer and chronic infection is an emerging field that shows promise in recent trials. Synthetic-biology-based engineering of T lymphocytes to express high-affinity antigen receptors can overcome immune tolerance, which has been a major limitation of immunotherapy-based strategies. Advances in cell engineering and culture approaches to enable efficient gene transfer and ex vivo cell expansion have facilitated broader evaluation of this technology, moving adoptive transfer from a "boutique" application to the cusp of a mainstream technology. The major challenge currently facing the field is to increase the specificity of engineered T cells for tumors, because targeting shared antigens has the potential to lead to on-target off-tumor toxicities, as observed in recent trials. As the field of adoptive transfer technology matures, the major engineering challenge is the development of automated cell culture systems, so that the approach can extend beyond specialized academic centers and become widely available. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article discusses the roles of ethicists in the governance of synthetic biology. I am particularly concerned with the idea of self-regulation of bioscience and its relationship to public discourse about ethical issues in bioscience. I will look at the role of philosophical ethicists at different levels and loci, from the "embedded ethicist" in the laboratory or research project, to ethicists' impact on policy and public discourse. In a democratic society, the development of governance frameworks for emerging technologies, such as synthetic biology, needs to be guided by a well-informed public discourse. In the case of synthetic biology, the public discourse has to go further than merely considering technical issues of biosafety and biosecurity, or risk management, to consider more philosophical issues concerning the meaning and value of "life" between the natural and the synthetic. I argue that ethicists have moral expertise to bring to the public arena, which consists not only in guiding the debate but also in evaluating arguments and moral positions and making normative judgments. When ethicists make normative claims or moral judgments, they must be transparent about their theoretical positions and basic moral standpoints.
Synthetic biology requires both engineering efficiency and compliance with safety guidelines and ethics. Focusing on the rational construction of biological systems based on engineering principles, synthetic biology depends on a genome-design platform to explore the combinations of multiple biological components or BIO bricks for quickly producing innovative devices. This chapter explains the differences among various platform models and details a methodology for promoting open innovation within the scope of the statutory exemption of patent laws. The detailed platform adopts a centralized evaluation model (CEM), computer-aided design (CAD) bricks, and a freemium model. It is also important for the platform to support the legal aspects of copyrights as well as patent and safety guidelines because intellectual work including DNA sequences designed rationally by human intelligence is basically copyrightable. An informational platform with high traceability, transparency, auditability, and security is required for copyright proof, safety compliance, and incentive management for open innovation in synthetic biology. GenoCon, which we have organized and explained here, is a competition-styled, open-innovation method involving worldwide participants from scientific, commercial, and educational communities that aims to improve the designs of genomic sequences that confer a desired function on an organism. Using only a Web browser, a participating contributor proposes a design expressed with CAD bricks that generate a relevant DNA sequence, which is then experimentally and intensively evaluated by the GenoCon organizers. The CAD bricks that comprise programs and databases as a Semantic Web are developed, executed, shared, reused, and well stocked on the secure Semantic Web platform called the Scientists' Networking System or SciNetS/SciNeS, based on which a CEM research center for synthetic biology and open innovation should be established. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc
Winne, Johan M; Irani, Niloufer G; Van den Begin, Jos; Madder, Annemieke
Synthetic derivatization of hormonally active brassinosteroids (BRs) can provide useful small molecule tools to probe BR signaling pathways, such as fluorescent analogs. However, most biologically active BRs are not suitable for direct chemical conjugation techniques because their derivatization typically requires extensive synthetic work and chemistry expertise. Here, we describe an operationally simple, two-step procedure to prepare and purify an Alexa Fluor 647-castasterone (AFCS) from commercially available materials. The reported strategy is also amenable to the introduction of various other amine-based labeling groups.
Original Research doi:10.4102/http://www.indieskriflig.org.za ids.v48i2.722 An exploration of synthetic biology: A preliminary Christian ethical assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of synthetic biology
Riaan A.L. Rheeder
Full Text Available On 20 May 2010, the Venter Institute in America announced that they have fully synthesised the genome of the organism Mycoplasma mycoides whilst in vitro by using a computer connected to a machine that synthesises genes. Thereafter, the genome was placed back into the casing of another organism (Mycoplasma capricolum and it was reported that the synthesised organism and the genome functioned normally. This synthesised organism was reconstructed to function as a minute little factory with the aim of producing and secreting fuel and medicine − something that is not the natural function of this organism. There are certain potential dangers inherent in this kind of technology. Scientists fear that this technology may contaminate or infect humans, animals or the environment, and that it can as such be extremely harmful, or even lead to the destruction of humans. Other scientists are concerned that terrorists can use this technology to kill innocent citizens. Some ethicists are of the opinion that the consequences of synthetic biology is currently unpredictable and that it is therefore risky. In opposition to the potential dangers, one has to mention that synthetic biology indeed can result in far-reaching positive outcomes such as the manufacturing of biofuel and medication. Most scientists and ethicists are of the opinion that the potential dangers involved in synthetic biology should be evaluated in light of the fact that genetic manipulation has not caused any biological devastation over the last 30 years. From a Christian point of departure, the opinion is currently that synthetic biology is not an irresponsible science and technology.
Dasari, Ramesh; De Carvalho, Annelise; Medellin, Derek C.; Middleton, Kelsey N.; Hague, Frédéric; Volmar, Marie N. M.; Frolova, Liliya V.; Rossato, Mateus F.; De La Chapa, Jorge J.; Dybdal-Hargreaves, Nicholas F.; Pillai, Akshita; Mathieu, Véronique; Rogelj, Snezna; Gonzales, Cara B.; Calixto, João B.; Evidente, Antonio; Gautier, Mathieu; Munirathinam, Gnanasekar; Glass, Rainer; Burth, Patricia; Pelly, Stephen C.; van Otterlo, Willem A. L.; Kiss, Robert; Kornienko, Alexander
Polygodial, a terpenenoid dialdehyde isolated from Polygonum hydropiper L., is a known TRPV1 agonist. In this investigation a series of polygodial analogues were prepared and investigated for TRPV1 agonistic and anticancer activities. These experiments led to the identification of 9-epipolygodial, possessing antiproliferative potency significantly exceeding that of polygodial. Epipolygodial maintained potency against apoptosis-resistant cancer cells as well as those displaying the MDR phenotype. In addition, a chemical feasibility for the previously proposed mechanism of action of polygodial, involving the Paal-Knorr pyrrole formation with a lysine residue on the target protein, was demonstrated through the synthesis of a stable polygodial pyrrole derivative. These studies reveal rich chemical and biological properties associated with polygodial and its direct derivatives. They should inspire further work in this area aimed at the development of new pharmacological agents or exploration of novel mechanisms of covalent modification of biological molecules with natural products. PMID:26434977
Boudry, Maarten; Pigliucci, Massimo
The scientific study of living organisms is permeated by machine and design metaphors. Genes are thought of as the "blueprint" of an organism, organisms are "reverse engineered" to discover their functionality, and living cells are compared to biochemical factories, complete with assembly lines, transport systems, messenger circuits, etc. Although the notion of design is indispensable to think about adaptations, and engineering analogies have considerable heuristic value (e.g., optimality assumptions), we argue they are limited in several important respects. In particular, the analogy with human-made machines falters when we move down to the level of molecular biology and genetics. Living organisms are far more messy and less transparent than human-made machines. Notoriously, evolution is an opportunistic tinkerer, blindly stumbling on "designs" that no sensible engineer would come up with. Despite impressive technological innovation, the prospect of artificially designing new life forms from scratch has proven more difficult than the superficial analogy with "programming" the right "software" would suggest. The idea of applying straightforward engineering approaches to living systems and their genomes-isolating functional components, designing new parts from scratch, recombining and assembling them into novel life forms-pushes the analogy with human artifacts beyond its limits. In the absence of a one-to-one correspondence between genotype and phenotype, there is no straightforward way to implement novel biological functions and design new life forms. Both the developmental complexity of gene expression and the multifarious interactions of genes and environments are serious obstacles for "engineering" a particular phenotype. The problem of reverse-engineering a desired phenotype to its genetic "instructions" is probably intractable for any but the most simple phenotypes. Recent developments in the field of bio-engineering and synthetic biology reflect these
Full Text Available A series of 7-hydroxy, 8-hydroxy and 7,8-dihydroxy synthetic chromone derivatives was evaluated for their DPPH free radical scavenging activities. A training set of 30 synthetic chromone derivatives was subject to three-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship (3D-QSAR studies using molecular field analysis (MFA. The substitutional requirements for favorable antioxidant activity were investigated and a predictive model that could be used for the design of novel antioxidants was derived. Regression analysis was carried out using genetic partial least squares (G/PLS method. A highly predictive and statistically significant model was generated. The predictive ability of the developed model was assessed using a test set of 5 compounds (r2pred = 0.924. The analyzed MFA model demonstrated a good fit, having r2 value of 0.868 and crossvalidated coefficient r2cv value of 0.771.
Dutta, N.K.; Tran, N.D.; Roy Choudhury, N.; Hill, A.J.; Elvin, C.; Knott, Robert
Full text: Elastic proteins are observed in a wide range of biological systems, from plants to invertebrates to humans, where they have evolved to fulfill precise biological function. The elasticity of resilins is exploited by animals in locomotion, through storing energy, especially in jumping and flight. Resilins are composed of naturally occurring protein polymers in which biological control of the polypeptide sequence made a material with mechanical and resilience characteristics superior to any synthetic and non-peptide natural polymer. We have successfully cloned, expressed and in vitro crosslinked insect pro-resilin to prepare resilin like polypeptide (Jaano-Resilin) with unusual viscoelastic characteristics with resilience characteristics more than 95% in preferred swollen gel state. The molecular basis of the unusual resilience characteristics of the resilin-gel is unknown but of significant scientific interest. In this research investigation Small angle neutron scattering (SANS) has be employed to explore the self-organisation behaviour of crosslinked resilin gel in equilibrium-swollen condition over a wide range of temperature (5 to 80 degrees C). The effect of drying and re-swelling on the organisational behaviour has been established. We also evaluate the viscoelastic characteristic of this resilin elastomer gels over a wide range of experimental conditions. The correlation between self-organisation and unique resilience behaviour will also be discussed. (authors)
The study was carried out to investigate the biological condition of fish species in lower Ogun River wetlands. A total of 175 individual fish belonging to 10 species were collected from artisanal fishermen using different types of fishing gears. Two biological indices; condition factor “K” and growth exponent “b” obtained from ...
Kahl, Linda J. [BioBricks Foundation
The Synthetic Biology conference series (SBx.0) is the preeminent academic meeting in synthetic biology. Organized by the BioBricks Foundation, the SBx.0 conference series brings together leading researchers, students, industry executives, and policy makers from around the world to share, consider, debate, and plan efforts to make biology easier to engineer. Historically held every two years, the SBx.0 conferences are held in alternating locations in the United States, Europe, and Asia to encourage global participation and collaboration so that the ramifications of synthetic biology research and development are most likely to be safe ethical, and beneficial. On 9-11 July 2013, the 6th installment of the synthetic biology conference series (SB6.0) was held on the campus of Imperial College London (http://sb6.biobricks.org). The SB6.0 conference was attended by over 700 people, and many more were able to participate via video digital conference (http://sb6.biobricks.org/digital-conference/). Over the course of three days, the SB6.0 conference agenda included plenary sessions, workshops, and poster presentations covering topics ranging from the infrastructure needs arising when “Systematic Engineering Meets Biological Complexity” and design-led considerations for “Connecting People and Technologies” to discussions on “Engineering Biology for New Materials,” “Assessing Risk and Managing Biocontainment,” and “New Directions for Energy and Sustainability.” The $10,150 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DE-SC0010233) to the BioBricks Foundation was used to provide partial reimbursement for the travel expenses of leading researchers from the United States to speak at the SB6.0 conference. A total of $9,450 was used to reimburse U.S. speakers for actual expenses related to the SB6.0 conference, including airfare (economy or coach only), ground transportation, hotel, and registration fees. In addition, $700 of the grant was used to offset
Pandey, Ramesh Prasad; Parajuli, Prakash; Koffas, Mattheos A G; Sohng, Jae Kyung
In this review, we address recent advances made in pathway engineering, directed evolution, and systems/synthetic biology approaches employed in the production and modification of flavonoids from microbial cells. The review is divided into two major parts. In the first, various metabolic engineering and system/synthetic biology approaches used for production of flavonoids and derivatives are discussed broadly. All the manipulations/engineering accomplished on the microorganisms since 2000 are described in detail along with the biosynthetic pathway enzymes, their sources, structures of the compounds, and yield of each product. In the second part of the review, post-modifications of flavonoids by four major reactions, namely glycosylations, methylations, hydroxylations and prenylations using recombinant strains are described. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
Maas, Sybren L.N.; de Vrij, Jeroen; van der Vlist, Els J.; Geragousian, Biaina; van Bloois, Louis; Mastrobattista, Enrico; Schiffelers, Raymond M.; Wauben, Marca H.M.; Broekman, Marike L.D.; Nolte-'t Hoen, Esther N.M.
Nano-sized extracelullar vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types play important roles in a plethora of (patho)physiological processes and are increasingly recognized as biomarkers for disease. In addition, engineered EV and EV-inspired liposomes hold great potential as drug delivery systems. Major technologies developed for high-throughput analysis of individual EV include nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), tunable resistive pulse sensing (tRPS) and high-resolution flow cytometry (hFC). Currently, there is a need for comparative studies on the available technologies to improve standardization of vesicle analysis in diagnostic or therapeutic settings. We investigated the possibilities, limitations and comparability of NTA, tRPS and hFC for analysis of tumor cell-derived EVs and synthetic mimics (i.e. differently sized liposomes). NTA and tRPS instrument settings were identified that significantly affected the quantification of these particles. Furthermore, we detailed the differences in absolute quantification of EVs and liposomes using the three technologies. This study increases our understanding of possibilities and pitfalls of NTA, tRPS and hFC, which will benefit standardized and large-scale clinical application of (engineered) EVs and EV-mimics in the future. PMID:25555362
Lin, Janine [Novozymes, Inc., Davis, CA (United States); Teter, Sarah [Novozymes, Inc., Davis, CA (United States)
Using a novel enzyme screening method inspired by synthetic biology, Novozymes developed new technology under SynTec which allows for more rapidly tailoring of enzyme cocktails. The methodology can be applied to specific feedstocks, and or coupled to address a specific hydrolytic conversion process context. Using combinatorial high throughput screening of libraries of enzyme domains, we can quickly assess which combination of catalytic modules delivers the best performance for a specific condition. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the screening process, we measured performance of the output catalytic cocktail compared to CTec3/HTec3. SynTec benchmark cocktail - blend of Cellic® CTec3 and HTec3. The test substrate was - ammonia fiber expansion pretreated corn stover (AFEX™ PCS).CTec3/HTec3 was assayed at the optimal pH and temperature, and also in the absence of any pH adjustment. The new enzyme cocktail discovered under SynTec was assayed in the absence of any pH adjustment and at the optimal temperature. Conversion is delivered by SynTec enzyme at significant dose reduction relative to CTec3/HTec3 at the controlled pH optimum, and without titrant required to maintain pH, which delivers additional cost savings relative to current state of the art process. In this 2.5 year $4M project, the team delivered an experimental cocktail that significantly outperformed CTec3/HTec3 for a specific substrate, and for specific hydrolysis conditions. As a means of comparing performance improvement delivered per research dollar spent, we note that SynTec delivered a similar performance improvement to the previous award, in a shorter time and with fewer resources than for the previously successful DOE project DECREASE, a 3.5 year, $25M project, though this project focused on a different substrate and used different hydrolysis conditions. The newly implemented technology for rapid sourcing of new cellulases and hemicellulases from nature is an example of Novozymes
Norville, Julie E.
A goal of synthetic biology is to make biological systems easier to engineer. One of the aims is to design, with nanometer-scale precision, biomaterials with well-defined properties. The surface-layer protein SbpA forms 2D arrays naturally on the cell surface of Lysinibacillus sphaericus, but also as the purified protein in solution upon the addition of divalent cations. The high propensity of SbpA to form crystalline arrays, which can be simply controlled by divalent cations, and the possibility to genetically alter the protein, make SbpA an attractive molecule for synthetic biology. To be a useful tool, however, it is important that a simple protocol can be used to produce recombinant wild-type and modified SbpA in large quantities and in a biologically active form. The present study addresses this requirement by introducing a mild and non-denaturing purification protocol to produce milligram quantities of recombinant, active SbpA.
Norville, Julie E; Kelly, Deborah F; Knight, Thomas F; Belcher, Angela M; Walz, Thomas
A goal of synthetic biology is to make biological systems easier to engineer. One of the aims is to design – with nanometer-scale precision – biomaterials with well-defined properties. The surface layer protein SbpA forms two-dimensional (2D) arrays naturally on the cell surface of Lysinibacillus sphaericus but also as purified protein in solution upon addition of divalent cations. Its high propensity to form crystalline arrays, the simple way by which its crystallization can be controlled by divalent cations and the possibility to genetically alter the protein make SbpA an attractive molecule for synthetic biology. To be a useful tool, however, it is important that a simple protocol can be used to produce recombinant wild-type as well as modified SbpA in large quantities and in a biologically active form. The present study addresses this requirement by introducing a mild and non-denaturing purification protocol to produce milligram quantities of recombinant, active SbpA. PMID:21681963
Jalindre, Swaraj Sunil
Ink absorption performance in inkjet receptive coatings containing synthetic zeolite pigments was studied. Coating pigment pore and particle size distribution are the key parameters that influence in modifying media surface properties, thus affecting the rate of ink penetration and drying time (Scholkopf, et al. 2004). The primary objective of this study was: (1) to investigate the synthetic zeolite pigment effects on inkjet ink absorption, dynamic contact angle and printability, and (2) to evaluate these novel synthetic zeolite pigments in replacing the fumed silica pigments in conventional inkjet receptive coatings. In this research study, single pigment coating formulations (in equal P:B ratio) were prepared using microporous synthetic zeolite pigments (5A, Organophilic and 13X) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) binder. The laboratory-coated samples were characterized for absorption, air permeance, roughness, drying time, wettability and print fidelity. Based on the rheological data, it was found that the synthetic zeolite formulated coatings depicted a Newtonian flow behavior at low shear; while the industry accepted fumed silica based coatings displayed a characteristically high pseudoplastic flow behavior. Our coated samples generated using microporous synthetic zeolite pigments produced low absorption, reduced wettability and accelerated ink drying characteristics. These characteristics were caused due to the synthetic zeolite pigments, which resulted in relatively closed surface structure coated samples. The research suggested that no single selected synthetic zeolite coating performed better than the conventional fumed silica based coatings. Experimental data also showed that there was no apparent relationship between synthetic zeolite pigment pore sizes and inkjet ink absorption. For future research, above coated samples should be evaluated for pore size distribution using Mercury Porosimeter, which quantifies surface porosity of coated samples. This presented
Casini, Arturo; MacDonald, James T.; Jonghe, Joachim De; Christodoulou, Georgia; Freemont, Paul S.; Baldwin, Geoff S.; Ellis, Tom
Overlap-directed DNA assembly methods allow multiple DNA parts to be assembled together in one reaction. These methods, which rely on sequence homology between the ends of DNA parts, have become widely adopted in synthetic biology, despite being incompatible with a key principle of engineering: modularity. To answer this, we present MODAL: a Modular Overlap-Directed Assembly with Linkers strategy that brings modularity to overlap-directed methods, allowing assembly of an initial set of DNA parts into a variety of arrangements in one-pot reactions. MODAL is accompanied by a custom software tool that designs overlap linkers to guide assembly, allowing parts to be assembled in any specified order and orientation. The in silico design of synthetic orthogonal overlapping junctions allows for much greater efficiency in DNA assembly for a variety of different methods compared with using non-designed sequence. In tests with three different assembly technologies, the MODAL strategy gives assembly of both yeast and bacterial plasmids, composed of up to five DNA parts in the kilobase range with efficiencies of between 75 and 100%. It also seamlessly allows mutagenesis to be performed on any specified DNA parts during the process, allowing the one-step creation of construct libraries valuable for synthetic biology applications. PMID:24153110
Oliveira, L.M. de; Jesus, E.F. de; Rossi, A.M.; Lopes, R.T.; Rodrigues, L.N.; Barbosa, R.A.
Synthetic A-type carbonated apatite and enamel samples were irradiated using X rays and gamma rays of 137 Cs and 60 Co in the range of 47 keV to 1.25 MeV. The energy-dependent response of CO 2 - radicals induced by radiation in both systems is studied using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR). No energy dependence was verified for synthetic apatites and enamel in the range of 58 to 1250 keV. The results are compared with the energy dependence of the same radicals induced in bones and enamel reported in the literature. (author)
Verano, Alyssa Leigh
The pyrrolomorpholine spiroketal natural product family is comprised of epimeric furanose and pyranose isomers. These compounds were isolated from diverse plant species, all of which are used as traditional Chinese medicines for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Notably, the spiroketal natural products acortatarins A and B exhibit antioxidant activity in a diabetic renal cell model, significantly attenuating hyperglycemia-induced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), a hallmark of diabetic nephropathy. The xylapyrrosides, additional members of the family, also inhibit t-butyl hydroperoxide-induced cytotoxicity in rat vascular smooth muscle cells. Accordingly, these natural products have therapeutic potential for the treatment of oxidative stress-related pathologies, and synthetic access would provide an exciting opportunity to investigate bioactivity and mechanism of action. Herein, we report the stereoselective synthesis of acortatarins A and B, furanose members of the pyrrolomorpholine spiroketal family. Our synthetic route was expanded to synthesize the pyranose congeners, thus completing entire D-enantiomeric family of natural products. Efficient access towards these scaffolds enabled systematic analogue synthesis, investigation of mechanism-of-action, and the discovery of novel antioxidants.
Full Text Available Gabrielle H Kingsley, David L Scott Rheumatology Unit, Kings College London, London, UK Background: Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis the primary manifestations of which are locomotor and skin disease. Although a number of guidelines have been published citing strategies for reducing disease progression, the evidence base for disease-modifying agents is unclear. This forms the focus of this systematic review. Methods: The systematic review was undertaken according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses 2009 checklist. We selected randomized controlled trials (RCTs that looked at the impact of interventions with disease-modifying agents, either synthetic drugs or biologics on musculoskeletal outcomes, notably American College of Rheumatology 20 percent responders. Results were analyzed using Review Manager 5.1.6 (Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, UK. Whilst our primary focus was on published trials, we also looked at new trials presented in abstract form in 2013–2014 that were not yet published to avoid omitting important and up-to-date information on developing treatments. Results: Our in-depth analysis included 28 trials overall enrolling 5,177 patients published between the 1980s and now as well as limited analysis of some studies in abstract form as described earlier. The most frequently available locomotor outcome measure was the American College of Rheumatology 20 percent responders. The risk ratio for achieving an American College of Rheumatology 20 percent responders response was positive in favor of treatment (risk ratio 2.30; 95% confidence interval 1.78–2.96; however, there was evidence of considerable heterogeneity between trials. Overall randomized controlled trials of established synthetic disease-modifying agents were largely negative (methotrexate, ciclosporin and sulfasalazine though leflunomide showed a small positive effect. A new synthetic agent, apremilast, did show a
National Aeronautics and Space Administration — Although the theoretical case for space biological engineering is convincing, since recent studies on the use of biology in space showed substantial payload...
Substituted quinoxaline have considerable interest in chemistry, biology and pharmacology. Quinoxaline derivatives are capable with variety of biological activities and possess different biological activities, of which the most potent are anti-microbial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities. It facilitated the researchers to develop various methods for their synthesis and their applications. In this review represented different methods of synthesis, reactivity and various biological act...
Bonnet, U; Mahler, H
Among the new psychoactive substances (NPS), most frequently synthetic cannabinoids (SCBs) have been found in Europe. These are sold as active compounds in e. g. so-called "herbal blends". When inhaled or ingested, besides intoxication symptoms, as they occur with heavy cannabis use (e. g., tachycardia, myocardial infarction, confusion, hallucinations, panic attacks, and paranoia), harmful effects (severe agitation, coma, catatonic stupor, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, dyspnoea, seizures, myoclonus, rhabdomyolysis, hyperthermia, diaphoresis, acute kidney injury, vomiting, headache, and hypokalemia) arise, which are mostly unusual about cannabis use. In addition, the first cases of addiction and death related to SCBs have been reported. Taking into account the newest literature and using an algorithm with two main criteria (addiction potential, toxicity), the authors made a first attempt to rank the personal health hazard of SCBs in comparison to that of other psychoactive drugs. Accordingly, the relative health hazard of SCBs is found to be somewhat higher than that of cannabis and lower than that of synthetic cathinones ("bath salts"). However, the toxicity of SCBs, is significantly greater than the toxicity of cannabis, thus being similar to that of synthetic cathinones and benzodiazepines. The addiction potential appears to be lower than that of synthetic cathinones, benzodiazepines, or cannabis. Due to the fluctuation of substances and the availability in internet resources, legislation is facing a serious "hare-hedgehog" problem to control the manufacture, trade and possession of SCBs. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.
Knijnenburg, Annemiek Dorien
The research described in this thesis focuses on synthetic modifications of the antibiotic peptide gramicidin S (GS). The aim of the research is the development of non–toxic analogs of GS using conformational and amphipathic changes induced by sugar amino acids (SAAs) and/or non–proteinogenic amino
Sreejalekshmi, Kumaran G; Nair, Prabha D
Biomimetic and bioactive biomaterials are desirable as tissue engineering scaffolds by virtue of their capability to mimic natural environments of the extracellular matrix. Biomimeticity has been achieved by the incorporation of synthetic short peptide sequences into suitable materials either by surface modification or by bulk incorporation. Research in this area has identified several novel synthetic peptide segments, some of them with cell-specific interactions, which may serve as potential candidates for use in explicit tissue applications. This review focuses on the developments and prospective directions of incorporating short synthetic peptide sequences onto scaffolds for tissue engineering, with emphasis on the chemistry of peptide immobilization and subsequent cell responses toward modified scaffolds. The article provides a decision-tree-type flow chart indicating the most probable cellular events on a given peptide-modified scaffold along with the consolidated list of synthetic peptide sequences, supports as well as cell types used in various tissue engineering studies, and aims to serve as a quick reference guide to peptide chemists and material scientists interested in the field. 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Pinchuk, Nataliia; Parkhomey, Oleksandr; Sych, Olena
This in vitro investigation of the behavior of two types of calcium phosphate glass ceramics on the basis of phosphates of biogenic or synthetic origin prepared from initial mixtures with different particle size has revealed that some different factors affect the behavior, namely the phase composition of composite, fraction of open porosity, and average diameter of pore channels. It was established that the solubility of the composites on the basis of synthetic calcium phosphates and glass af...
Bloch, Jean-François; Tardieu-Guigues, Elisabeth
The sea will be a source of economic development in the next years. Today the research works in marine biotechnologies supply new products and processes. The introduction in the laboratories of a new technology, synthesis biology, is going to increase the possibilities of creation of new products. Exploitation of product stemming from marine biodiversity has to be made with regard to various rights among which industrial property law, maritime law and the Convention on BioDiversity. All participants involved in the promotion of research in marine biotechnology must address the fair and equitable sharing of any commercial exploitation. Carrying out work involving synthetic biology has increased the number of unanswered questions about how operators should manage in order to avoid any threat of being sued for infringements of IP rights or for alleged bio-piracy. This paper, by no means exhaustive in the field, analyzes some of the issues raised on the modification to the landscape in marine biotechnology by the advent of synthetic biology. Such issues indicate how important the collaboration between researchers, industrialists, lawyers is for allowing proper use of marine biotech. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Full Text Available Recent advances in lower-cost DNA synthesis techniques have enabled new innovations in the field of synthetic biology. Still, efficient design and higher-order assembly of genome-scale DNA constructs remains a labor-intensive process. Given the complexity, computer assisted design tools that fragment large DNA sequences into fabricable DNA blocks are needed to pave the way towards streamlined assembly of biological systems. Here, we present the Genome Partitioner software implemented as a web-based interface that permits multi-level partitioning of genome-scale DNA designs. Without the need for specialized computing skills, biologists can submit their DNA designs to a fully automated pipeline that generates the optimal retrosynthetic route for higher-order DNA assembly. To test the algorithm, we partitioned a 783 kb Caulobacter crescentus genome design. We validated the partitioning strategy by assembling a 20 kb test segment encompassing a difficult to synthesize DNA sequence. Successful assembly from 1 kb subblocks into the 20 kb segment highlights the effectiveness of the Genome Partitioner for reducing synthesis costs and timelines for higher-order DNA assembly. The Genome Partitioner is broadly applicable to translate DNA designs into ready to order sequences that can be assembled with standardized protocols, thus offering new opportunities to harness the diversity of microbial genomes for synthetic biology applications. The Genome Partitioner web tool can be accessed at https://christenlab.ethz.ch/GenomePartitioner.
Celedon, J M; Bohlmann, J
Terpenoid fragrances are powerful mediators of ecological interactions in nature and have a long history of traditional and modern industrial applications. Plants produce a great diversity of fragrant terpenoid metabolites, which make them a superb source of biosynthetic genes and enzymes. Advances in fragrance gene discovery have enabled new approaches in synthetic biology of high-value speciality molecules toward applications in the fragrance and flavor, food and beverage, cosmetics, and other industries. Rapid developments in transcriptome and genome sequencing of nonmodel plant species have accelerated the discovery of fragrance biosynthetic pathways. In parallel, advances in metabolic engineering of microbial and plant systems have established platforms for synthetic biology applications of some of the thousands of plant genes that underlie fragrance diversity. While many fragrance molecules (eg, simple monoterpenes) are abundant in readily renewable plant materials, some highly valuable fragrant terpenoids (eg, santalols, ambroxides) are rare in nature and interesting targets for synthetic biology. As a representative example for genomics/transcriptomics enabled gene and enzyme discovery, we describe a strategy used successfully for elucidation of a complete fragrance biosynthetic pathway in sandalwood (Santalum album) and its reconstruction in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). We address questions related to the discovery of specific genes within large gene families and recovery of rare gene transcripts that are selectively expressed in recalcitrant tissues. To substantiate the validity of the approaches, we describe the combination of methods used in the gene and enzyme discovery of a cytochrome P450 in the fragrant heartwood of tropical sandalwood, responsible for the fragrance defining, final step in the biosynthesis of (Z)-santalols. © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
AFFECTIVE DISORDERS MULTIVARIATE INVESTIGATIONS OF CLINICAL AND BIOLOGICAL VARIABLES Björn Wahlund, MD, Dissertation, Karolinska Institute, Department of ClinicalNeuroscience, Section of Psychiatry, St. Göran's Hospital, S-112 81 Stockholm,Sweden This thesis is a methodological and clinical investigation of patients with affectivedisorders. The goal of the study was to determine the extent to which biologicaland clinical measures may cluster clinical subpopulations....
Tyurenkov, I. N.; Ozerov, A. A.; Kurkin, D. V.; Logvinova, E. O.; Bakulin, D. A.; Volotova, E. V.; Borodin, D. D.
A G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR119, is a promising pharmacological target for a new class of hypoglycaemic drugs with an original mechanism of action, namely, increase in the glucose-dependent incretin and insulin secretion. In 2005, the first ligands were found and in the subsequent years, a large number of GPR119 agonists were synthesized in laboratories in various countries; the safest and most promising agonists have entered phase I and II clinical trials as agents for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. The review describes the major endogenous GPR119 agonists and the main trends in the design and modification of synthetic structures for increasing the hypoglycaemic activity. The data on synthetic agonists are arranged according to the type of the central core of the molecules. The bibliography includes 104 references.
Costa, Rúben M.
3D bioprinting is one of the most promising technologies in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. As new printing techniques and bioinks are getting developed, new cellular constructs with high resolution and functionality arise. Different to bioinks of animal, algal or plant origin, synthesized bioinks are proposed as superior biomaterials because their characteristics are fully under control. In this review, we will highlight the potential of synthetic biomaterials to be used as bioinks in 3D bioprinting to produce functionally enhanced matrices.
Lee, Taek Soon; Krupa, Rachel A; Zhang, Fuzhong; Hajimorad, Meghdad; Holtz, William J; Prasad, Nilu; Lee, Sung Kuk; Keasling, Jay D
As engineered biological systems become more complex, it is increasingly common to express multiple operons from different plasmids and inducible expression systems within a single host cell. Optimizing such systems often requires screening combinations of origins of replication, expression systems, and antibiotic markers. This procedure is hampered by a lack of quantitative data on how these components behave when more than one origin of replication or expression system are used simultaneously. Additionally, this process can be time consuming as it often requires the creation of new vectors or cloning into existing but disparate vectors. Here, we report the development and characterization of a library of expression vectors compatible with the BglBrick standard (BBF RFC 21). We have designed and constructed 96 BglBrick-compatible plasmids with a combination of replication origins, antibiotic resistance genes, and inducible promoters. These plasmids were characterized over a range of inducer concentrations, in the presence of non-cognate inducer molecules, and with several growth media, and their characteristics were documented in a standard format datasheet. A three plasmid system was used to investigate the impact of multiple origins of replication on plasmid copy number. The standardized collection of vectors presented here allows the user to rapidly construct and test the expression of genes with various combinations of promoter strength, inducible expression system, copy number, and antibiotic resistance. The quantitative datasheets created for these vectors will increase the predictability of gene expression, especially when multiple plasmids and inducers are utilized.
Full Text Available Abstract Background As engineered biological systems become more complex, it is increasingly common to express multiple operons from different plasmids and inducible expression systems within a single host cell. Optimizing such systems often requires screening combinations of origins of replication, expression systems, and antibiotic markers. This procedure is hampered by a lack of quantitative data on how these components behave when more than one origin of replication or expression system are used simultaneously. Additionally, this process can be time consuming as it often requires the creation of new vectors or cloning into existing but disparate vectors. Results Here, we report the development and characterization of a library of expression vectors compatible with the BglBrick standard (BBF RFC 21. We have designed and constructed 96 BglBrick-compatible plasmids with a combination of replication origins, antibiotic resistance genes, and inducible promoters. These plasmids were characterized over a range of inducer concentrations, in the presence of non-cognate inducer molecules, and with several growth media, and their characteristics were documented in a standard format datasheet. A three plasmid system was used to investigate the impact of multiple origins of replication on plasmid copy number. Conclusions The standardized collection of vectors presented here allows the user to rapidly construct and test the expression of genes with various combinations of promoter strength, inducible expression system, copy number, and antibiotic resistance. The quantitative datasheets created for these vectors will increase the predictability of gene expression, especially when multiple plasmids and inducers are utilized.
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.
The quest to construct artificial cells from the bottom-up using simple building blocks has received much attention over recent decades and is one of the grand challenges in synthetic biology. Cell mimics that are encapsulated by lipid membranes are a particularly powerful class of artificial cells due to their biocompatibility and the ability to reconstitute biological machinery within them. One of the key obstacles in the field centres on the following: how can membrane-based artificial cells be generated in a controlled way and in high-throughput? In particular, how can they be constructed to have precisely defined parameters including size, biomolecular composition and spatial organization? Microfluidic generation strategies have proved instrumental in addressing these questions. This article will outline some of the major principles underpinning membrane-based artificial cells and their construction using microfluidics, and will detail some recent landmarks that have been achieved. © 2016 The Author(s).
Baltz, Richard H
Nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) are giant multi-enzymes that carry out sequencial assembly line couplings of amino acids to generate linear or cyclic peptides. NRPSs are composed of repeating enzyme domains with modular organization to activate and couple specific amino acids in a particular order. From a synthetic biology perspective, they can be considered as peptide assembly machines composed of devices to couple fatty acids to l-amino acids, l-amino acids to l-amino acids, and d-amino acids to l-amino acids. The coupling devices are composed of specific parts that contain two or more enzyme domains that can be exchanged combinatorially to generate novel peptide assembly machines to produce novel peptides. The potent lipopeptide antibiotics daptomycin and A54145E have identical cyclic depsipeptide ring structures and stereochemistry but have divergent amino acid sequences. As their biosynthetic gene clusters are derived from an ancient ancestral lipopetide pathway, these lipopeptides provided an attractive model to develop combinatorial biosynthesis to generate antibiotics superior to daptomycin. These studies on combinatorial biosynthesis have helped generate guidelines for the successful assembly of NRPS parts and devices that can be used to generate novel lipopeptide structures and have established a basis for future synthetic biology studies to further develop combinatorial biosynthesis as a robust approach to natural product drug discovery.
Hu, Xiaoyu; Xu, Beihua; Zhou, Ziniu
The purpose of this study was to investigate an efficient synthetic route to the mono-PEGylated growth hormone releasing peptide-2 (GHRP-2) and its biological activity in vivo. The commercially available key PEGylating reagent, mPEG-NHS ester, was successfully utilized to the synthesis of mono-PEGylated GHRP-2, during which the PEGylation profiles of GHRP-2 were monitored by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The product was purified by cation exchange chromatography, and its biological activity was conducted in rats. The desired mono-PEGylated GHRP-2 as the major product was readily obtained in anhydrous aprotic solvent, such as dimethyl formamide (DMF) and dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), when the molar ratio of mPEG-NHS ester to GHRP-2 was fixed to be 0.8:1. The products were characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry. The evaluation of the biological activity for the products showed that the mono-PEGylated GHRP-2 gave a more stable activity than GHRP-2, suggesting that PEGylation led to the increase in the half-life of GHRP-2 in plasma without greatly impairing the biological activity. PEGylation of the GHRP-2 is a good choice for the development of the GHRP-2 applications.
Dawid, Alexandre; Cayrol, Bastien; Isambert, Hervé
Among all biopolymers, ribonucleic acids or RNA have unique functional versatility, which led to the early suggestion that RNA alone (or a closely related biopolymer) might have once sustained a primitive form of life based on a single type of biopolymer. This has been supported by the demonstration of processive RNA-based replication and the discovery of 'riboswitches' or RNA switches, which directly sense their metabolic environment. In this paper, we further explore the plausibility of this 'RNA world' scenario and show, through synthetic molecular design guided by advanced RNA simulations, that RNA can also perform elementary regulation tasks on its own. We demonstrate that RNA synthetic regulatory modules directly inspired from bacterial transcription attenuators can efficiently activate or repress the expression of other RNA by merely controlling their folding paths 'on the fly' during transcription through simple RNA–RNA antisense interaction. Factors, such as NTP concentration and RNA synthesis rate, affecting the efficiency of this kinetic regulation mechanism are also studied and discussed in the light of evolutionary constraints. Overall, this suggests that direct coupling among synthesis, folding and regulation of RNAs may have enabled the early emergence of autonomous RNA-based regulation networks in absence of both DNA and protein partners
Dawid, Alexandre; Cayrol, Bastien; Isambert, Hervé
Among all biopolymers, ribonucleic acids or RNA have unique functional versatility, which led to the early suggestion that RNA alone (or a closely related biopolymer) might have once sustained a primitive form of life based on a single type of biopolymer. This has been supported by the demonstration of processive RNA-based replication and the discovery of 'riboswitches' or RNA switches, which directly sense their metabolic environment. In this paper, we further explore the plausibility of this 'RNA world' scenario and show, through synthetic molecular design guided by advanced RNA simulations, that RNA can also perform elementary regulation tasks on its own. We demonstrate that RNA synthetic regulatory modules directly inspired from bacterial transcription attenuators can efficiently activate or repress the expression of other RNA by merely controlling their folding paths 'on the fly' during transcription through simple RNA-RNA antisense interaction. Factors, such as NTP concentration and RNA synthesis rate, affecting the efficiency of this kinetic regulation mechanism are also studied and discussed in the light of evolutionary constraints. Overall, this suggests that direct coupling among synthesis, folding and regulation of RNAs may have enabled the early emergence of autonomous RNA-based regulation networks in absence of both DNA and protein partners.
Shin, Jonghyeon; Caschera, Filippo; Murray, Richard M.; Noireaux, Vincent
Ideal cell-free expression systems can theoretically emulate an in vivo cellular environment in a controlled in vitro platform.1 This is useful for expressing proteins and genetic circuits in a controlled manner as well as for providing a prototyping environment for synthetic biology.2,3 To achieve the latter goal, cell-free expression systems that preserve endogenous Escherichia coli transcription-translation mechanisms are able to more accurately reflect in vivo cellular dynamics than those based on T7 RNA polymerase transcription. We describe the preparation and execution of an efficient endogenous E. coli based transcription-translation (TX-TL) cell-free expression system that can produce equivalent amounts of protein as T7-based systems at a 98% cost reduction to similar commercial systems.4,5 The preparation of buffers and crude cell extract are described, as well as the execution of a three tube TX-TL reaction. The entire protocol takes five days to prepare and yields enough material for up to 3000 single reactions in one preparation. Once prepared, each reaction takes under 8 hr from setup to data collection and analysis. Mechanisms of regulation and transcription exogenous to E. coli, such as lac/tet repressors and T7 RNA polymerase, can be supplemented.6 Endogenous properties, such as mRNA and DNA degradation rates, can also be adjusted.7 The TX-TL cell-free expression system has been demonstrated for large-scale circuit assembly, exploring biological phenomena, and expression of proteins under both T7- and endogenous promoters.6,8 Accompanying mathematical models are available.9,10 The resulting system has unique applications in synthetic biology as a prototyping environment, or "TX-TL biomolecular breadboard." PMID:24084388
Grzegorczyk, Marco; Husmeier, Dirk
An important and challenging problem in systems biology is the inference of gene regulatory networks from short non-stationary time series of transcriptional profiles. A popular approach that has been widely applied to this end is based on dynamic Bayesian networks (DBNs), although traditional homogeneous DBNs fail to model the non-stationarity and time-varying nature of the gene regulatory processes. Various authors have therefore recently proposed combining DBNs with multiple changepoint processes to obtain time varying dynamic Bayesian networks (TV-DBNs). However, TV-DBNs are not without problems. Gene expression time series are typically short, which leaves the model over-flexible, leading to over-fitting or inflated inference uncertainty. In the present paper, we introduce a Bayesian regularization scheme that addresses this difficulty. Our approach is based on the rationale that changes in gene regulatory processes appear gradually during an organism's life cycle or in response to a changing environment, and we have integrated this notion in the prior distribution of the TV-DBN parameters. We have extensively tested our regularized TV-DBN model on synthetic data, in which we have simulated short non-homogeneous time series produced from a system subject to gradual change. We have then applied our method to real-world gene expression time series, measured during the life cycle of Drosophila melanogaster, under artificially generated constant light condition in Arabidopsis thaliana, and from a synthetically designed strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae exposed to a changing environment.
Zhang, Haowei; Jiang, Jianguo; Li, Menglu; Yan, Feng; Gong, Changxiu; Wang, Quan
The production of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) from food waste to improve biological nutrient removal has drawn much attention. In this study, acidogenic liquid from food waste was used as an alternative carbon source for synthetic wastewater treatment. C/N ratios of 5 and 6 were suitable for denitrification, and the change in acidogenic liquid composition had no negative effect on denitrification. The denitrification rates using optimal carbon-to-nitrate ratios of acidogenic liquid were more than 25 mg NO3-N/(gVSS·h). At the same time, acidogenic liquid was used to improve nutrient removal from summer and winter sewage. C/N ratios of 5 and 6 were acceptable for summer sewage treatment. Total nitrogen in the final effluent was less than 7 mg/L. Two additional hours were required for winter sewage treatment, and the C/N ratio had to be >6. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Hutmacher, Dietmar Werner; Holzapfel, Boris Michael; De-Juan-Pardo, Elena Maria; Pereira, Brooke Anne; Ellem, Stuart John; Loessner, Daniela; Risbridger, Gail Petuna
In order to progress beyond currently available medical devices and implants, the concept of tissue engineering has moved into the centre of biomedical research worldwide. The aim of this approach is not to replace damaged tissue with an implant or device but rather to prompt the patient's own tissue to enact a regenerative response by using a tissue-engineered construct to assemble new functional and healthy tissue. More recently, it has been suggested that the combination of Synthetic Biology and translational tissue-engineering techniques could enhance the field of personalized medicine, not only from a regenerative medicine perspective, but also to provide frontier technologies for building and transforming the research landscape in the field of in vitro and in vivo disease models. Crown Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.