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World's first synthetic yeast chromosome created

Posted on Mar 28 2014 | IANS

New York, March 28 : In what is billed as a next leap in synthetic life, a team of researchers has redesigned and produced a fully functional chromosome from the baker's yeast.

The synthetic yeast chromosome, which has been stripped of some DNA sequences and other elements, is 272,871 base pairs long, representing about 2.5 percent of the 12-million-base-pair, said the researchers.

As a eukaryote, a category that includes humans and other animals, the baker's yeast named saccharomyces cerevisiae has a very complex genome.

The project began when Jef Boeke, a yeast geneticist at the New York University, and his team set out to synthesise the baker's yeast genome with much more drastic alterations than those demonstrated by earlier scientists.

"This is a pretty impressive demonstration of not just DNA synthesis, but redesign of an entire eukaryotic chromosome," said Farren Isaacs, a bioengineer at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

You can see that they are systematically paving the way for a new era of biology based on the redesign of genomes.

"I was not sceptical about whether it could be done. The question was how can we make this different from a normal chromosome and put something into it that's really going to make it worthwhile?" Boeke asked.

According to the research, published in the journal Science1 and reported by Nature, the team would create a synthetic version of the full saccharomyces cerevisiae genome within five years.

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