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J. Craig Venter Institute Researchers Publish Significant Advance in Genome Assembly Technology
Date:12/4/2008

Advance Allows for More Efficient Construction of Synthetic Genomes

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit genomic research organization, have published a paper describing a significant advance in genome assembly in which the team can now assemble the whole bacterial genome, Mycoplasma genitalium, in one step from 25 fragments of DNA. Lead author Daniel G. Gibson, Ph.D. and his team published their results in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The work was funded by the company Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI).

Today's publication represents major improvements in the methods that the team developed and described in their January 2008 publication of the first synthesis of a bacterial genome, M. genitalium. That publication outlined how the team synthesized in the laboratory the 582,970 base pair M. genitalium genome using the chemical building blocks of DNA -- adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T).

While this was a big advance, it took several years to come to fruition and in the end was a tedious, multi-stage process in which the team had to build the genome a quarter at a time using the bacterium Escherichia coli to clone and produce the DNA segments. During this building process the team found that E. coli had difficulty reproducing the large DNA segments, so they turned to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. They were then able to finish creating the synthetic bacterial genome using a method called homologous recombination (a process that cells naturally use to repair chromosome damage).

Realizing how robustly yeast performed, the team wondered if it could be used to build the entire M. genitalium genome from multiple, smaller, overlapping segments of DNA. For
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SOURCE J. Craig Venter Institute
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