For the first-of-its-kind, scientists have made a synthetic chromosome thus making a mark in the development of synthetic biology that assures to revolutionize industrial and medical biotechnology in the coming decades.
The researchers created the artificial chromosome by assembling synthetic strands of DNA together, which were incorporated into the genome of a multi-celled organism, like yeast. The successful implantation is remarkable due to the yeast's complex nature.
"Our research moves the needle in synthetic biology from theory to reality. This work represents the biggest step yet in an international effort to construct the full genome of synthetic yeast," Belfast Telegraph quoted Jef Boeke, the lead author of the study, New York University School of Medicine.
"It is the most extensively altered chromosome ever built. But the milestone that really counts is integrating it into a living yeast cell. We have shown that yeast cells carrying this synthetic chromosome are remarkably normal," he said.
Yeast has been in use in genetic experiments since long. In 2009, scientists created the first synthetic bacterial genome in a yeast cell. Synthetic DNA incorporated within yeast cells has been built to make artificial yeast chromosomes that have been used in mapping genes for years. The multi-cellular organism, yeast, is one of the organisms that have been completely sequenced in 1996.
The synthetic version also called synIII, is a version of the yeast's chromosome III that has 316,667 base pairs. The team chose this chromosome as it is the smallest and explains how yeast cells undergo genetic changes.
The achievement has led to the development of more artificial microbes that could be planned to manufacture more efficient fuels, better food products and more potent medicines.
Artificial chromosomes is important for the synthetic life-forms that scientists expects to design for a range of applications, including industrial manufacture of new types of medicines and drugs for human and animal medicine, capability to generate new types of microbes with genetic codes that could generate cheaper ways to use crude oil as automotive fuel or create improved medicines without having harmful side effects.
The details of the study have been published in the Science journal.