DNA construction, also known as DNA cloning or recombinant DNA technology - among a host of other terms - is one of the principal tools of modern biotechnology, used for a wide variety of purposes, including genetic studies, medical research, and the development of advanced biofuels. A number of software programs make the process faster and more efficient, but Nathan Hillson, a biochemist at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), with an eye on the economics of scientific discovery, has developed the only DNA construction software that also identifies which strategy would be the most cost-effective. This unique software program goes by the unassuming name of j5.
"Our j5 is the only software package today that both standardizes and cost-optimizes the DNA construction process," says Hillson, who directs JBEI's Synthetic Biology program and also holds an appointment with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)'s Physical Biosciences Division. "Through the design of short DNA sequences that can be used to join longer sequences together in recombinant DNA assemblies, the j5 software improves the accuracy, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of DNA construction."
DNA construction is the process by which multiple genes or fragments of DNA sequences are physically assembled together. Such constructs are valuable for developing new medical treatments and for engineering microbes to efficiently carry out a specific task, such as converting cellulosic biomass into clean, green, renewable transportation fuels.
DNA construction incorporates DNA sequence fragments - often referred to as "parts" - from a variety of organisms into a self-replicating genetic element, such as a bacterial plasmid, that will propagate the assembled parts in a host cell. Traditionally, this has been accomplished through the use of a panoply of restriction enzymes for splicing desired DNA sequence fragments, and ligation
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory