First yeast cells with a ‘synthetic’ chromosome
Researchers for the first time grow yeast cells in which a natural chromosome was successively replaced by exchanging the entire natural DNA sequence by chemically synthesized DNA fragments.
The used fragments were designed in a way that the so formed chromosome was simplified and modified by omitting and replacing certain gene sequences as well as introducing short DNA elements for genome manipulation. Despite these changes viability of the cells remained basically unaltered. The work (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/03/26/science.1249252.full) is part of an international initiative that also involves many students to generate yeast cells with all its 16 chromosome derived from chemically synthesized DNA.
The work received a surprisingly broad press coverage (including even 'yellow press' front pages) and various researchers from the field believe the results are an important step towards the possibility of ‘designed’ synthetic chromosomes or genomes in organisms other than simple bacteria or viruses.
Press coverage (selection):
Nature News: First synthetic yeast chromosome revealed
The Economist: DIY chromosomes
National Geographic: Scientists move closer to inventing artificial life
Wall Street Journal: Scientists Craft Working Chromosome for Yeast
Financial Times: Synthetic life comes closer with artificial chromosome for yeast
The Independent: Eureka! Scientists unveil giant leap towards synthetic life
Technology Review: Yeast 2.0
Popular Mechanics: Scientists Create Synthetic Yeast Chromosome (And Unlock the Future of Beer)
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