World’s First Synthetic Cell

Friday, May 21, 2010

Man-Made Cell

Scientists from J Craig Venter Institute, US have confirmed the development of the first self replicating synthetic bacterial cell controlled by a synthetic genome i.e. a synthetic cell. The cell has been named Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn 1.0. This is the first cell that has been designed in computer, chemically made in the laboratory and transplanted into a recipient cell.

The synthetic cell was made from four bottles of chemicals that make up its DNA. Researchers are already deliberating on a plan to create a specially engineered algae which can trap carbon dioxide and convert it to biofuel. It could also be used to produce medicine and energy.

Scientists for the experiment synthesized the genome of M. mycoides by using short strains of DNA and inserted them into eukaryotic yeast whose enzymes have the ability to repair DNA and combine the short strains together. It resulted in the creation of full genome stretching more than a million base pairs. This DNA was watermarked to distinguish it from natural species. It was then transplanted into another bacteria - Mycoplasma capricolum where synthetic genome produced new proteins. This resulted in the world’s first synthetic cells built from wholly synthesized DNA.

The research team stated that as of now their aim is to produce algae as an algal genome contains just under 2 million base pairs, though, creating new organisms through these cells can be a future prospect.

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