Synthetic chromosomes, genomes, viruses, and cells
Venter JC, Glass JI, Hutchison CA, Vashee S
Synthetic genomics is the construction of viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotic cells with synthetic genomes. It involves two basic processes: synthesis of complete genomes or chromosomes and booting up of those synthetic nucleic acids to make viruses or living cells. The first synthetic genomics efforts resulted in the construction of viruses. This led to a revolution in viral reverse genetics and improvements in vaccine design and manufacture. The first bacterium with a synthetic genome led to construction of a minimal bacterial cell and recoded Escherichia coli strains able to incorporate multiple non-standard amino acids in proteins and resistant to phage infection. Further advances led to a yeast strain with a synthetic genome and new approaches for animal and plant artificial chromosomes. On the horizon there are dramatic advances in DNA synthesis that will enable extraordinary new opportunities in medicine, industry, agriculture, and research.