Telomerator reshapes synthetic yeast chromosome
NYU Langone yeast geneticists report they have developed a novel tool, dubbed “Telomerator,” that could redefine the limits of synthetic biology and advance how successfully living things can be engineered or constructed in the laboratory based on an organism’s genetic, chemical base-pair structure.
Synthetic biologists aim to use such “designer” microorganisms to produce novel medicines, nutrients and biofuels, Science Daily wrote.
In the report, NYU Langone scientists say the telomerator should also improve study of yeast genetics, the model microorganism for human genetics and help researchers determine how genes, as well as the chromosomes housing them, interact with each other.
The research team, led by Jef Boeke, PhD, a professor and director of NYU Langone’s Institute for Systems Genetics, built the telomerator to convert circular chromosomes into linear ones.
Boeke says this better resembles the natural structure of more complex organisms, including humans. Comprising about 1,500 chemical base pairs linked together, the human-made piece of telomerator code can be inserted as a single unit at any position on circular DNA and almost anywhere among a chromosome’s other genes, whose base pairs can number into the hundreds of thousands.
“Our new telomerator resolves a serious and practical issue facing biologists everywhere by helping us experiment with synthetic genes in ways that are more realistic and more closely aligned to the biology of higher organisms, such as humans,” says Boeke.
“Until now, we’ve relied on synthesizing functional and stable yeast chromosomes in a circular format, with their telomeres cut off, so they can be uniformly reproduced for easy experimentation within bacteria, whose chromosomes are circular in shape.”