Research Article

Total Synthesis of a Functional Designer Eukaryotic Chromosome

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Science  04 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6179, pp. 55-58
DOI: 10.1126/science.1249252

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Designer Chromosome

One of the ultimate aims of synthetic biology is to build designer organisms from the ground up. Rapid advances in DNA synthesis has allowed the assembly of complete bacterial genomes. Eukaryotic organisms, with their generally much larger and more complex genomes, present an additional challenge to synthetic biologists. Annaluru et al. (p. 55, published online 27 March) designed a synthetic eukaryotic chromosome based on yeast chromosome III. The designer chromosome, shorn of destabilizing transfer RNA genes and transposons, is ∼14% smaller than its wild-type template and is fully functional with every gene tagged for easy removal.


Rapid advances in DNA synthesis techniques have made it possible to engineer viruses, biochemical pathways and assemble bacterial genomes. Here, we report the synthesis of a functional 272,871–base pair designer eukaryotic chromosome, synIII, which is based on the 316,617–base pair native Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome III. Changes to synIII include TAG/TAA stop-codon replacements, deletion of subtelomeric regions, introns, transfer RNAs, transposons, and silent mating loci as well as insertion of loxPsym sites to enable genome scrambling. SynIII is functional in S. cerevisiae. Scrambling of the chromosome in a heterozygous diploid reveals a large increase in a-mater derivatives resulting from loss of the MATα allele on synIII. The complete design and synthesis of synIII establishes S. cerevisiae as the basis for designer eukaryotic genome biology.

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