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First Bacterial Genome Transplantation Changing One Species to Another

ded for by the M. mycoides LC chromosome.

Two sets of antibodies that bound specifically to cell surface proteins from each cell were reacted with transplant cells, to demonstrate that the membrane proteins switch to those dictated by the transplanted chromosome not the recipient cell chromosome. The new, transformed organisms show up as bright blue colonies in images of blots probed with M. mycoides LC specific antibody.

The group chose to work with these species of mycoplasmas for several reasons -- the small genomes of these organisms which make them easier to work with, their lack of cell walls, and the team's experience and expertise with mycoplasmas.

The mycoplasmas used in the transplantation experiment are also relatively fast growing, allowing the team to ascertain success of the transplantation sooner than with other species of mycoplasmas.

According to Dr. Lartigue, "While we are excited by the results of our research, we are continuing to perfect and refine our techniques and methods as we move to the next phases and prepare to develop a fully synthetic chromosome."

Genome transplantation is an 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.

The ability to transfer the naked DNA isolated from one species into a second microbial species paves the way for next experiments to transplant a fully synthetic bacterial chromosome into a living organism and if successful, "boot up" the new entity.

There are many important applications of synthetic genomics research including development of new energy sources and as means to produce pharmaceuticals, chemicals or textiles.




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