In DepthSynthetic Biology

Researchers coax stripped-down cells to grow normally

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Science  02 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6537, pp. 18
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6537.18

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Summary

To boost synthetic biology and probe the origins of life, researchers have been trying to create minimal cells that can survive with the fewest genes. In 2016, they engineered such a cell that only required 473 genes, less than any known organism. But the stripped-down cell divided abnormally. Now, scientists have found that they can repair this defect by returning seven genes that had been deleted from the cell. Only two of the seven genes had been previously linked to cellular reproduction. The restored cell may allow researchers to investigate the functions of the many genes whose cellular roles remain unknown.

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