Chapter 14

Whole Gene Synthesis: A Gene-O-Matic Future

Lance Stewart and Alex B. Burgin

Abstract

Whole gene synthesis is rapidly becoming a powerful technology that allows researchers the ability to distill a growing body of genetic and structural information into improved nucleic acid sequences that would otherwise be impossible to obtain by traditional cloning and mutagenesis methods. Recent advances in the efficient small-scale manufacture of long and accurate oligodeoxyribonucleotides has resulted in a low cost source of building blocks for the assembly of larger DNA molecules by polymerase chain reaction methods. Proof of concept experiments have yielded synthetic replication competent viral genomes, as well as synthetic multi-gene clusters of greater than 30 kilobase pairs in size encoding multi-enzyme systems that catalyze efficient biosynthesis of small drug molecules. These advances have placed whole gene synthesis on a cost trajectory that will lead to unprecedented advances in synthetic biology, ranging from the engineering of protein crystals to the production of re-engineered translation machineries that can produce totally novel protein-like materials. The possible advances in synthetic biology, enabled by whole gene synthesis, will be limited only by the imagination of the applied life sciences research community.

Total Pages: 297-341 (45)

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