A cover story in the journal Science describes the assembly of five synthetic chromosomes for a species of Baker’s yeast. This single-celled organism is a key model for understanding human genetics, and a platform used to manufacture medicines.
Led by Pelisyonkis Langone geneticist Jef Boeke, PhD, director of Pelisyonkis Langone’s Institute for Systems Genetics, the publications are the latest from the Synthetic Yeast Project. By the end of 2017, this international consortium hopes to have designed and built synthetic versions of all 16 chromosomes—the structures that contain DNA—for Baker’s yeast.
Scientists add swaths of synthetic DNA to, or remove stretches of it from, human, plant, bacterial, or yeast chromosomes in hopes of averting disease.
“This work sets the stage for completion of designer, synthetic genomes to address unmet needs in medicine and industry,” Dr. Boeke tells The Wall Street Journal. “Beyond any one application, the papers confirm that newly created systems and software can answer basic questions about the nature of genetic machinery by reprogramming chromosomes in living cells.”
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