Navigation Links
Mimicking living cells: Synthesizing ribosomes
Date:6/28/2013

Synthetic biology researchers at Northwestern University, working with partners at Harvard Medical School, have for the first time synthesized ribosomes -- cell structures responsible for generating all proteins and enzymes in our bodies -- from scratch in a test tube.

Others have previously tried to synthesize ribosomes from their constituent parts, but the efforts have yielded poorly functional ribosomes under conditions that do not replicate the environment of a living cell. In addition, attempts to combine ribosome synthesis and assembly in a single process have failed for decades.

Michael C. Jewett, a synthetic biologist at Northwestern, George M. Church, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues recently took another approach: they mimicked the natural synthesis of a ribosome, allowing natural enzymes of a cell to help facilitate the man-made construction.

The technology could lead to the discovery of new antibiotics targeting ribosome assembly; an advanced understanding of how ribosomes form and function; and the creation of tailor-made ribosomes to produce new proteins with exotic functions that would be difficult, if not impossible, to make in living organisms.

"We can mimic nature and create ribosomes the way nature has evolved to do it, where all the processes are co-activated at the same time," said Jewett, who led the research along with Church. "Our approach is a one-pot synthesis scheme in which we toss genes encoding ribosomal RNA, natural ribosomal proteins, and additional enzymes of an E. coli cell together in a test tube, and this leads to the construction of a ribosome."

Jewett is an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The in vitro construction of ribosomes, as demonstrated in this study, is of great interest to the synthetic biology field, which seeks to transform the ability to engineer new or novel life forms and biocatalytic ensembles for useful purposes.

The findings of the four-year research project were published June 25 in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.

Comprising 57 parts -- three strands of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and 54 proteins -- ribosomes carry out the translation of messenger RNA into proteins, a core process of the cell. The thousands of proteins per cell, in turn, carry out a vast array of functions, from digestion to the creation of antibodies. Cells require ribosomes to live.

Jewett likens a ribosome to a chef. The ribosome takes the recipe, encoded in DNA, and makes the meal, or a protein. "We want to make brand new chefs, or ribosomes," Jewett said. "Then we can alter ribosomes to do new things for us."

"The ability to make ribosomes in vitro in a process that mimics the way biology does it opens new avenues for the study of ribosome synthesis and assembly, enabling us to better understand and possibly control the translation process," he said. "Our technology also may enable us in the future to rapidly engineer modified ribosomes with new behaviors and functions, a potentially significant advance for the synthetic biology field."

The synthesis process developed by Jewett and Church -- termed "integrated synthesis, assembly and translation" (iSAT) technology -- mimics nature by enabling ribosome synthesis, assembly and function in a single reaction and in the same compartment.

Working with E. coli cells, the researchers combined natural ribosomal proteins with synthetically made ribosomal RNA, which self-assembled in vitro to create semi-synthetic, functional ribosomes.

They confirmed the ribosomes were active by assessing their ability to carry out translation of luciferase, the protein responsible for allowing a firefly to glow. The researchers then showed the ability of iSAT to make a modified ribosome with a point mutation that mediates resistance to the antibiotic clindamycin.

The researchers next want to synthesize all 57 ribosome parts, including the 54 proteins.

"I'm really excited about where we are," Jewett said. "This study is an important step along the way to synthesizing a complete ribosome. We will continue to push this work forward."

Jewett and Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, are authors of the paper, titled "In Vitro Integration of Ribosomal RNA Synthesis, Ribosome Assembly, and Translation." Other authors are Brian R. Fritz and Laura E. Timmerman, graduate students in chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern.

The work was carried out at both Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School.


'/>"/>

Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Hormone-mimicking chemicals cause inter-species mating
2. EU FET program funds research on 3D neuronal structures mimicking human brain tissue
3. Penn team mimicking a natural defense against malaria to develop new treatments
4. Combinations of estrogen-mimicking chemicals found to strongly distort hormone action
5. Protecting living fossil trees
6. Global Surgical Devices Market Growth Driven by Improving Standards of Living and Longer Life Expectancies, Research Shows
7. Molecular spectroscopy tracks living mammalian cells in real time as they differentiate
8. Nature: Microscope looks into cells of living fish
9. Living microprocessor tunes in to feedback
10. Photograph of a living human brain is the overall winner of Wellcome Image Awards 2012
11. Penn researchers improve living tissues with 3-D printed vascular networks made from sugar
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/15/2016)... DUBLIN , Nov 15, 2016 Research ... - Global Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... ... reach USD 16.18 Billion by 2021 from USD 6.21 Billion in ... Growth of the bioinformatics market is driven by ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... The report forecasts the biometrics ... a CAGR of 12.28% during the period 2016-2020. ... with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the market landscape ... includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market. ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 On Monday, the ... to industry to share solutions for the Biometric Exit ... Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP intends ... departing the United States , in ... to defeat imposters. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)...  HedgePath Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCQX: HPPI), a clinical ... to commercialize innovative therapeutics for patients with cancer, ... approved for trading on the OTCQX U.S. market. ... effective today, under the ticker symbol "HPPI." ... must meet high financial standards, follow best practice ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016 Eutilex Co. ... billion KRW (US $18.9M) Series A financing. This financing ... G.N. Tech Venture and SNU Bio Angel. This new ... 30.5 billion KRW (US $27.7M) since its founding in ... to bolster the development and commercialization of its immuno-oncology ...
(Date:12/8/2016)...   Biocept, Inc . (NASDAQ: ... actionable liquid biopsy tests to improve the management ... its Target Selector™ Circulating Tumor Cell platform demonstrated ... of actionable biomarkers in patients with metastatic breast ... Cannon Research Institute (SCRI), the research arm of ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... 07, 2016 , ... A new study published in the ... treated, advanced pancreatic cancer, liquid biopsies are not yet an adequate substitute for ... blood sampling may improve the value of a blood-based test.” The study was ...
Breaking Biology Technology: