May 23, 2019 08:49 AM EDT
One of the many studies in science that merit a lot of attention is that which involves genetics.
Genetic alteration studies are currently earning a lot of irking because of its unethical Implications. Even so, this obstacle does not stop the continuing developments in the field.
Just recently, a group of scientists from Cambridge University has created the first living organism with a fully synthetic and radically altered DNA code.
In their study, the scientists have replaced the genes of E. coli bacteria with the genomes that they have synthesized in their laboratory. This is the first experiment of the kind in the entire world.
This method, called synthetic genomics, offers a new way of understanding the rules of life. It is a step closer in synthetic biology towards a point in time where genomes can be designed and written. Using this method, the scientists were able to give a better definition of the minimal set of genes that a free-living cell would require.
The approach that involves designing the genome segment by using a computer was used by the group of scientists. They have chemically synthesized the fragments which were later assembled. The scientist succeeded in reducing the size of M. mycoides genome by 50% of its original size.
Referencing past work with E. coli, using the same process with only genome editing tools would be much more laborious, where only 15% of the genome has been removed.
The group used their template of the reduced genome from E. coli on a synthetic genome with codon reduction, which is another kind of minimization. This was done by synthesizing the genome of an E. coli bacteria in the laboratory. They would later observe happen to the specimen if they were to remove the DNA redundancies.
Both objectives were achieved when the group recoded the E. coli DNA on a computer with multiple redundancies removed, as the scientists have stated. Now that the desired genome was re-designed by the scientists, the next step was to split it up and load the specimen into a DNA synthesizer. The fragments would later be tweaked and stitched together before it could be put into a living E. coli bacterium. As only 61 of the 64 possible codes were used, the scientists named it Syn61.
The scientists also reported that the special bacterial specimen took a longer time to grow but behaved just like a regular or unedited specimen.
The scientists are looking into the possibility of replacing the redundancies with other sequences which could create bacteria with special abilities. This theory would be much useful in the production of biopolymers that are not found in nature.
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