A group of researchers from the Swiss HigherZurich Technical School has taken a step towards the creation of the first synthetic living organism. According to scientists, they managed to create the first computer genome of a living organism, which was called Caulobacter ethensis-2.0. It was created by cleaning and simplifying the natural code of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, and at the moment it is one large DNA molecule, which in the future may become the basis for the first synthetic life.
In fact, the researchers continued the work of geneticsCraig Venter, who about ten years ago created the first digital copy of the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides. Subsequently, it was implanted into a bacterium, which proved its viability and even its ability to reproduce.
In a new study, scientists stepped a little further,and made the genome of the bacterium more viable and developed. The bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, which has become the main object of research, contains about 4,000 genes. Like most organisms, including humans, a huge proportion of these genes are “junk” - only 680 of them were necessary for life. This minimal “genome”, according to scientists, is more than enough to sustain the life of a bacterium.
In the simplified genome, there were about 800,000 letters of the genetic code and, using an algorithm to determine the ideal DNA sequence, the researchers could notice its sixth share.
Thanks to our algorithm, we have given the genome a completely new sequence of DNA letters, and it no longer looks like the original one.
Beat Kristen, Head of Research
To check the performance madechanges, scientists have developed bacteria that have both the natural Caulobacter genome and the artificial segments. Some natural genes were turned off and, to the joy of the researchers, 580 out of 680 artificial genes began to do their work.
Using the knowledge gained in this study,Scientists will be able to create a fully functional version of genome 3.0. In the end, they may be able to create synthetic microorganisms designed for specific purposes - for example, for the production of vitamins.
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