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Tips on how to build a better home for biological parts
Date:7/16/2008

raduate students engineer novel biological systems starting from BioBricks, the parts documented in the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. The BioBrick is an emerging standard for DNA fragments that facilitates the assembly of biological parts into more complex devices and systems by using a standardized fabrication process. The entire collection of parts associated with the Registry is distributed to all teams enrolled in the iGEM competition. The iGEM participants are expected to return the designs they made to the Registry at the end of the competition.

The new study by VBI researchers not only examined the information content of the Registry database but also the collection of publicly available DNA sequences or clones (BioBricks) that are used to make the biological devices and systems. The analysis of the Registry database and the associated DNA clones identified several key needs where improvements could be made. These included the following: (a) to distinguish basic parts and composite parts that can be broken down into smaller parts; (b) to set curation standards to document the sequences of basic parts by associating them with entries in bioinformatic or bibliographic databases; (c) to define and implement quality control standards that ensure the integrity of DNA clones; and (d) to provide editorial policies that could help build registries of biological parts with high-value and high-quality content.

Peccoud concluded: "The Registry of Standard Biological Parts has been a pioneering experiment for the synthetic biology community and lessons should be learned to improve this resource and design the next-generation registries of biological parts. This bottom-up approach to biology raises a number of challenging theoretical questions. Defining what is a biological part, for example, remains a problem that the entire synthetic biology community needs to solve. In this respect, recent initiatives led by the BioBrick foundation and oth
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Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-1767
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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