In 2003 Drs. Venter, Smith and Hutchison made the first significant strides in the development of a synthetic genome by their work in assembling the 5,386 base pair bacteriophage FX174 (phi X). They did so using short, single strands of synthetically produced, commercially available DNA (known as oligonucleotides) and using an adaptation of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), known as polymerase cycle assembly (PCA), to build the phi X genome. The team produced the synthetic phi X in just 14 days.
In June 2007 another major advance was achieved when JCVI researchers led by Carole Lartigue, Ph.D., announced the results of work on genome transplantation methods allowing them to transform one type of bacteria into another type dictated by the transplanted chromosome. The work was published in the journal Science, and outlined the methods and techniques used to change one bacterial species, Mycoplasma capricolum, into another, Mycoplasma mycoides Large Colony (LC), by replacing one organism's genome with the other one's genome.
Genome transplantation was the first essential enabling step in the field of synthetic genomics as it is a key mechanism by which chemically synthesized chromosomes can be activated into viable living cells. Today's announcement of the successful synthesis of the M. genitalium genome is the second step leading to the next experiments to transplant a fully synthetic bacterial chromosome into a living organism and "boot up" the cell.
Since the beginning of the quest to understand and build a synthetic
genome, Dr. Venter and his team have been concerned with the societal
issues surrounding the work. In 1995 while the team was doing the research
on the minimal genome, the work u
|SOURCE J. Craig Venter Institute|
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