Questions tagged [synthetic-biology]

Synthetic biology is an approach to engineer biology. Core to the discipline is genetic engineering, which is made more akin to engineering by adding the levels of standardization, automation, and abstraction.

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Can scientists create totally synthetic life?

This particular question has been of a great deal of interest to me, especially since it dives at the heart of abiogenesis.
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What does it mean to “write an image and GIF into the DNA of bacteria”?

BBC News recently published an article saying that: An image and short film has been encoded in DNA, using the units of inheritance as a medium for storing information ... The team sequenced the ...
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1answer
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What is the criticality of the ribosome binding site relative to the start codon in prokaryotic translation?

In prokaryotic translation, how critical for efficient translation is the location of the ribosome binding site, relative to the start codon? Ideally, it is supposed to be -7b away from the start. ...
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Difference between genetic engineering and synthetic biology

I've recently seen the term synthetic biology being used to describe research involving genetic modification of organisms. What is the difference between synthetic biology and genetic engineering? Is ...
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Introductory literature for synthetic / systems biology

I am a computer engineer (MSc in Computer Engineering) who's looking to switch into the field of synthetic / systems biology. I have a comprehensive layman's understanding of evolution, genetics, ...
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568 views

Can spider silk be synthesized to be used for 3D printing?

With the recent rise in 3D printing, I keep hearing about more novel ways to use the technology: cell 3D printing, liquid aluminum or plastic 3D printing. For example, this Ted talk deals with ...
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DNA synthesis companies: cost per base, turn-around time, codon-optimization algorithms

I would like to synthesize a 3.4kb gene (originally isolated from soil bacteria) and transform it into E. coli. There are several companies (DNA2.0, GeneScript, BlueHeron) which will synthesize the ...
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What is the highest competency possible for E coli?

I am looking to find a highly competent E coli strain. I am making a library of a ~6.6kb plasmid and I am not getting high enough efficiency. Does anyone have a suggestion of a strain/protocol with ...
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What's the state of the art in designing and creating your own life forms?

What's the state of the art for solving the following problem. You imagine a set of features that you want a life-form to have. Just to take an arbitrary example, say you want your life-form to have a)...
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1answer
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How realistic is to use DNA for long term storage?

This is mainly a followup question to the recent paper Next-Generation Digital Information Storage in DNA. Personally, while I agree about the data density of the format, I can't help point out the ...
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How can CI repressor both activate and repress $P_{RM}$ promoter found in $\lambda$ phage?

I'm reading a paper where the authors constructed a toggle switch that uses bidirectional $P_R/P_{RM}$ promoter found in the $\lambda$ phage. There are 3 binding sites - $O_{R1}$, $O_{R2}$, $O_{R3}$ - ...
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Has anyone tried Gibson Assembly Optimizations?

Has anyone tried the chew back-anneal in vitro DNA assembly method (known as Gibson Assembly) for difficult sequences, like GC-rich sequences? How big constructs could you efficiently assemble? Did ...
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How significant is RNA degradation with removal of cap/polyA's in eukaryotes, or UTR's in prokaryotes?

Question is rather self-explanatory, but segmented into two parts. I'm attempting to make use of a repression system that employs cleaving RNA at specific areas with ribozymes with the intent of ...
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Synthetic biology using existing cells

I was watching the video at this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17436365 The speaker says that a cell is taken and its original DNA content is stripped out and replaced with ...
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2answers
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How predictably will RNA polymerase not transcribe repetitive sequences?

I am working on an (expensive) synthetic construct, which happens to have many "repetitive" sequences within it that are integral to its function. Primarily, the two sequences that are worrying me are:...
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2answers
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How would you effect bulk DNA gene therapy for a human?

Let's imagine that we understood DNA programming and our genome very well and realized that there were some significant flaws (we die, we need sleep, etc.) And let's imagine that we understand how to ...
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331 views

Balanced vs Maximized Codon Optimization

I have worked with the optimization of several viral proteins, from different viruses/families, with different results. When Menzella, 2011 was published I tried that method. I found quite the ...
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1answer
345 views

What is the difference between xDNA and yDNA?

Wikipedia states that: xDNA contains expanded bases, in which a benzene ring has been added, which may pair with canon bases, resulting in four possible base-pairs (8 bases:xA-T,xT-A,xC-G,xG-C, 16 ...
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How are Genetic Circuits Modelled?

I've read a recent Nature Methods paper by Moon T.S. et al, in which a synthetic genetic circuit consisting of layered logic gates was created. For example, the paper, a circuit is modelled in Figure ...
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1answer
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Designing genes with DNAWorks: Maximum nonzero score?

I'm designing a gene in DNAWorks, and I'm unable to find a set of conditions that gives an "overall score" of zero (which is what I normally insist on). People that have used DNAWorks: what's the ...
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1answer
208 views

Is it possible to synthesize chiral version of an organism (incompatible with our pathogens)?

In theory, it should be possible to synthesize chiral (mirror image) version of some organism: with all molecules replaced with their enantiomers, e.g. L-sugars in place of our D-sugars. Direct ...
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1answer
143 views

Can two hammerhead ribozymes simultaneously cleave each other?

I am working on a project in which an XOR gate is being built by having two hammerhead ribozymes simultaneously cleave each other when both are expressed, but have these ribozymes cleave a target ...
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Are there known downsides to removing UV mutation hotspots to prevent some skin cancers (Genetic sunblock)?

Khavari et al. recently demonstrated that a significant fraction of one of the major forms of skin cancer (cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas) are associated with a mutated KNSTRN gene (a protein ...
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Synthetic construct with multiple ORFs not expressing

I designed a synthetic construct on paper and got it synthesized from a company. The objective was to make a vector which can be used to study both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation ...
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1answer
172 views

What is the relation between plasmid concentration and mRNA levels?

Suppose a simple synthetic construct, consisting of a constitutive promoter and a single gene: One of the simplest ways to model GFP transcription is to use an ODE: $\frac{d [GFP_{mRNA}]}{dt} = a - ...
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Is there a practical upper limit to amount of nucleotides or genes in a transformed plasmid?

I'm currently working on a synthetic biology project which involves working with lots of different parts. I would ultimately like to integrate these genes by transforming a single plasmid. I've heard (...
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What are common causes of unexpected ligation products?

I digested two plasmids, one with EcoRI and AgeI and the other with EcoRI and XmaI. Digests looked as expected, so I purified the respective fragments and set up the T4 DNA ligation (AgeI and XmaI ...
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2answers
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Creating a cell, not from another cell. Will it be possible?

If some time in the future, we can know exactly what a cell (for example simple prokaryote bacteria) contains, (I mean, exactly which molecules, the shape of them, the density of each, everything), ...
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0answers
151 views

Could an organism theoretically produce a metamaterial-like structure? [closed]

I'm curious to know if this is physically feasible because during my reading up on synthetic biology and just general research i realise that life is capable of producing some exquisitely complex ...
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2answers
311 views

Will new proteins incorporating new amino acids trigger an immune response?

This article reported that scientists have succeeded in adding two new bases to the quartet of A, C, G and T, resulting in non-canonical amino acid. Additionally, the bacteria in which this was done ...
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2answers
435 views

Has synthetic biology created new plants or animals as of 2013?

I've seen a Ted.com talk where the speaker suggests that modern science can create new micro organisms, like bacteria with a pre- defined new set of traits. But has anyone create a new species of ...
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1answer
152 views

Is cell-free Life possible? [closed]

I think most of the people on this site know about the famous Baltimore paper describing the ability of the poliovirus to replicate itself without the need of cells but I want to expand on the issue ...
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1answer
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Do DNA supply houses maintain a watch list for dangerous oligos (Anthrax, Smallpox, etc.)?

The recent work by DeLoache, et al. on a synthetic opiate-precursor production pathway in yeast has generated a lot of scare stories in the media about people homebrewing heroin as easily as they ...
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Replacing, instead of repairing, DNA

I've been doing some light reading on DNA damage theory of aging. One of the main ideas from that theory that I got is that the accumulation of damage in our DNA is one of the biggest causes of why we ...
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1answer
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What prevent us from synthesizing a cell from “scratch”?

In this recent article "Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome", they created a minimal cell with only 473 genes. However, they didn't synthesize all of the necessary components of the ...
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1answer
124 views

Proline Iminopeptidase v Proline Aminopeptidase

We're an undergraduate independent research team and we are having trouble purchasing commercial proline iminopeptidase as it is unavailable on Sigma Aldrich and very expensive on other websites. We ...
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1answer
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How to secrete a recombinant protein from E. coli?

What are some secretory pathways that can be used to secrete a recombinant bacterial enzyme from E. coli? I have a recombinant protein (29kDa) that I will express in E. coli BL21 cells. For now I ...
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1answer
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Is there an optimal composition and length for protein linkers in FRET?

I'm designing a protein that I'd like to use in FRET reporting. General idea on the shape is: FRETprotein1--Linker--CleavageSite--Linker--FRETprotein2. I would like to know what AA are best for the ...
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3answers
870 views

Why isn't there a standard unit of promoter strength?

Sometimes in synthetic biology, we need to know rates of transcription of one promoter in relation to others (particularly inducible vs constitutive) in order to perform tasks like balancing ...
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1answer
651 views

T7 phage promoter action in mammals

Does anyone know if the T7 phage promoter is efficient in mammalian systems?
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2answers
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Dealing with Repetitive Bases in DNA?

I have been given a project involving a plasmid that contains long stretches of Adenine (60 or 120 bases each). These PolyA stretches are interrupted by the occasional G or C. I understand that ...
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1answer
703 views

Ribosomal Turing Machines, DNA/RNA computation

I'm a computer science guy, recently crossing over to do some research in computational biology on RNA secondary structure prediction. While looking through the materials I got a crazy idea, what if ...
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1answer
2k views

Why we utilize dextro glucose and levo amino acids?

Our body only digest dextro(Right handed) glucose and levo(Left handed) proteins and can't digest Levo glucose and dextro proteins. Why? Our body synthesis levo proteins. What is the reason?
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1answer
118 views

Is it possible to insert DNA without cutting the recognition site with CRISPR/Cas9?

We are looking for a way to insert DNA into a genome, but we would like to do it in a way that the recognition site stay intact to be able to add again DNA at the same location. Do you know if it is ...
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0answers
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What happens when you tag a protease with its own degradation tag?

I've been learning about the ClipXP, ClipAP, and Lon proteases. They are proteases from the AAA+ family, which seek out proteins tagged with certain peptide sequences, unfold them, and chop them up. ...
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0answers
179 views

Has anyone ever sucessfully translated xRNA or yRNA? [closed]

I've recently been researching the subject of size-expanded nucleobases in alternative genetic sets. Many papers describe the, at least, partial success in replicating xDNA and yDNA, as well as ...
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2answers
119 views

Storage of bacteria

Why are strains of bacteria stored when they are inactive (frozen)? What is the problem with storing growing cultures for long periods?
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1answer
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How can I accurately predict proper transgenic protein function/structure from different species?

I am currently building a synthetic system in E.coli, and am often faced with the need to use genes from other distant prokaryotes. I know that myself and most of my colleagues resort to an educated ...
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1answer
317 views

What's the difference between prions and prion-like proteins?

If I added a prion domain to a protein, does that make the protein a prion-like protein or would it be considered a prion at that point? I'm trying to understand what prions are, how they aggregate ...
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1answer
127 views

In theory how fast could nerve signals travel if the nerve fibre was perfectly insulated?

My question is purely theoretical and my main aim is to find out the maximum speed that a nerve signal can travel within a nervous system and and whether this speed represents the physical limit of ...