MAR 25, 2016 11:35 AM PDT

Venter engineers smallest genome yet

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
Craig Venter wants to know all about essential genes. To do this, Venter and colleagues need to create a synthetic cell that contains only those genes required for life - and they may have done it.  

They started with bacteria from the genus Mycoplasma; these cells have some of the smallest genomes ever sequenced. Thus, they are excellent tools for engineering synthetic genomes.
 
Venter's cells contain the smallest genomes around.

In their most recent publication, Venter and his team set out to “minimize the 1,079 kbp synthetic genome of M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0”. They used transposon mutagenesis to determine which genes were essential and which could be done away with. Their work eventually produced JCVI-syn3.0, a cell whose genome is 531 kbp and that contains only 473 genes. “Its genome is smaller than that of any autonomously replicating cell found in nature”, say authors.

This approach seems simple enough, right? Not so. Many genes didn’t fall into clear-cut “essential” or “nonessential” categories. Instead, they found a number of “quasi-essential” genes that are required for robust growth (but not necessarily viability).

According to the study authors, “JCVI-syn3.0 is a working approximation of a minimal cellular genome, a compromise between small genome size and a workable growth rate for an experimental organism. It retains almost all the genes that are involved in the synthesis and processing of macromolecules. Unexpectedly, it also contains 149 genes with unknown biological functions, suggesting the presence of undiscovered functions that are essential for life.”
 

Sources: Science Daily, Science, Wikipedia
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
OCT 18, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Small RNA is Connected to Bacterial Pathogenicity
OCT 18, 2020
Small RNA is Connected to Bacterial Pathogenicity
It's thought that as much as half of the global population carries a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori in their stoma ...
OCT 28, 2020
Microbiology
Immune Cells Link Gum Disease to Inflammatory DIsorders
OCT 28, 2020
Immune Cells Link Gum Disease to Inflammatory DIsorders
Scientists and clinicians know that oral health and inflammation, which is a part of many diseases, are connected.
NOV 05, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Painless Microneedle Patch Diagnoses Malaria in Minutes
NOV 05, 2020
Painless Microneedle Patch Diagnoses Malaria in Minutes
It looks like a Band-Aid — a small, adhesive patch that is applied directly to the skin. This simple, low-cost dia ...
NOV 09, 2020
Microbiology
Fighting COVID-19 with Help From Llamas
NOV 09, 2020
Fighting COVID-19 with Help From Llamas
Camelids, which include llamas, alpacas and camels have immune systems that generate two kinds of antibodies when confro ...
NOV 23, 2020
Microbiology
Drug Resistance in Tuberculosis Involves a Unique Mechanism
NOV 23, 2020
Drug Resistance in Tuberculosis Involves a Unique Mechanism
The pathogenic bacterium that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, does not multiply quickly, so researchers ...
NOV 23, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Vibrations in Coronavirus Proteins Help Them Infect Cells
NOV 23, 2020
Vibrations in Coronavirus Proteins Help Them Infect Cells
If a key isn't cut quite right, it might need a special jiggle to get it into a lock in the right way. Scientists have n ...
Loading Comments...