From Berkeley Lab: “Predictability: The Brass Ring For Synthetic Biology”


Berkeley Lab

March 13, 2013
Lynn Yarris

“Predictability is often used synonymously with boring, as in that story or that outcome was soooo predictable. For practitioners of synthetic biology seeking to engineer valuable new microbes, however, predictability is the brass ring that must be captured. Researchers with the multi-institutional partnership known as BIOFAB have become the first to grab at least a portion of this ring by unveiling a package of public domain DNA sequences and statistical models that greatly increase the reliability and precision by which biological systems can be engineered.

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BIOFAB researchers have produced high quality standardized public domain DNA sequences for genetic engineering. No image credit

The DNA sequences produced by BIOFAB provide precise control of gene expression in Escherichia coli, the rod-shaped bacterium that is one of the principal model organisms for genetic engineering. While these DNA sequences serve as standardized parts specific to E. coli, they also provide a set of rules for how the sequences fit together that should apply to other microbes as well. Controlling the expression of genes is essential for engineering a microbe to produce a specific product or carry out a specific function.

As BIOFAB co-director Adam Arkin, a computational biologist and director of Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division, has noted, ‘Fulfilling the great promise of synthetic biology hinges on making the design and construction of biological systems as predictable as the assembly of computer hardware.’

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Adam Arkin’s research group includes (from left) Guillaume Cambray, Quynh-Ahn Mai, Vivek Mutalik, Joao Guimaraes and Colin Lam. (Photo by Roy Kalstschmidt)

See the full article here.

A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California

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