Dreams become reality: Artificial cells generated in a lab!

 | Post date: 2021/07/12 | 
Scientists at JCVI constructed the first cell with a synthetic genome in 2010. They didn’t build that cell completely from scratch. Instead, they started with cells from a very simple type of bacteria called a mycoplasma. They destroyed the DNA in those cells and replaced it with DNA that was designed on a computer and synthesized in a lab. This was the first organism in the history of life on Earth to have an entirely synthetic genome. They called it JCVI-syn1.0. In a new first for genetic engineering, scientists have developed a single-celled synthetic organism that grows and divides much like a normal cell, mimicking aspects of the cell division cycle that underlies and generates healthy living cellular life. To investigate striking morphological variation in JCVI-syn3.0 cells, they present an approach to characterize cell propagation and determine genes affecting cell morphology. Microfluidic chemostats allowed observation of intrinsic cell dynamics that result in irregular morphologies. A genome with 19 genes not retained in JCVI-syn3.0 generated JCVI-syn3A, which presents morphology similar to that of JCVI-syn1.0. They further identified seven of these 19 genes, including two known cell division genes, ftsZ and sepF, a hydrolase of unknown substrate, and four genes that encode membrane-associated proteins of unknown function, which are required together to restore a phenotype similar to that of JCVI-syn1.0. This result emphasizes the polygenic nature of cell division and morphology in a genomically minimal cell.
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