3 years ago

Synthetic Biology—The Synthesis of Biology

Synthetic Biology—The Synthesis of Biology
Martin Fussenegger, Simon Ausländer, David Ausländer
Synthetic biology concerns the engineering of man-made living biomachines from standardized components that can perform predefined functions in a (self-)controlled manner. Different research strategies and interdisciplinary efforts are pursued to implement engineering principles to biology. The “top-down” strategy exploits nature's incredible diversity of existing, natural parts to construct synthetic compositions of genetic, metabolic, or signaling networks with predictable and controllable properties. This mainly application-driven approach results in living factories that produce drugs, biofuels, biomaterials, and fine chemicals, and results in living pills that are based on engineered cells with the capacity to autonomously detect and treat disease states in vivo. In contrast, the “bottom-up” strategy seeks to be independent of existing living systems by designing biological systems from scratch and synthesizing artificial biological entities not found in nature. This more knowledge-driven approach investigates the reconstruction of minimal biological systems that are capable of performing basic biological phenomena, such as self-organization, self-replication, and self-sustainability. Moreover, the syntheses of artificial biological units, such as synthetic nucleotides or amino acids, and their implementation into polymers inside living cells currently set the boundaries between natural and artificial biological systems. In particular, the in vitro design, synthesis, and transfer of complete genomes into host cells point to the future of synthetic biology: the creation of designer cells with tailored desirable properties for biomedicine and biotechnology. Exciting times for synthetic biology: Cells are being engineered to produce drugs and biofuels, entire genomes are being synthesized from scratch, proteins and DNA molecules are being equipped with unnatural functions, and recent progress in genome engineering promises to revolutionize biomedicine and biotechnology. This Review gives a comprehensive overview of different research areas in synthetic biology.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/anie.201609229

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