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Craig Venter's Team Reports Key Advance in Synthetic Biology

Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a genomic research organization, reported that they successfully transformed one bacterium into a different strain by transferring the entire bacterial genome of the first strain into a second, related strain of bacteria. In order to accomplish this feat, the team performed what they called a genetic first: they transferred genes from a prokaryote to a eukaryote and back to a prokaryote. The genetic manipulations they performed represent an important advance in synthetic biology.

The researchers published results (1) last week describing how they removed a genome from the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides, re-engineered and reproduced it inside the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (a eukaryote), and then transplanted the engineered genome into Mycoplasma capricolum, thus effectively turning it into a new strain of M. mycoides. The researchers had to develop new methods in which the entire bacterial genome from Mycoplasma mycoides was cloned in the yeast cell, according to a JCVI press release. The techniques used in this work pave the way for future groups to create novel genomes, which may allow them to create novel cells with novel properties.

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