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
MAR 30, 2020
Microbiology
MAR 30, 2020
The Microbial Communities That Form on the Tongue
Scientists used a fluorescent imaging tool to analyze how bacteria grow on the human tongue.
APR 02, 2020
Immunology
APR 02, 2020
Potential New COVID-19 Vaccine is Delivered by Patch
The coronavirus pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 is demanding the world's immediate attention.
APR 22, 2020
Microbiology
APR 22, 2020
First COVID-19 Death Happened in the US Far Earlier Than We Thought
It was thought that the first death in the US from SARS-CoV-2 happened in Washington State in late February, but autopsi ...
MAY 04, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 04, 2020
3D Print a Customizable Microscope for as Little as $18
Researchers have developed an open-source and customizable microscope that can be 3D-printed for only $18.
MAY 10, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 10, 2020
We Still Don't Know Why Rat Hepatitis is Turning Up in People
Hepatitis is a term for liver inflammation. Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E are caused by viruses.
MAY 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 11, 2020
3D Cell Culture Model Suggests Herpes Can Cause Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a common form of dementia that affects as many as 5.5 million Americans and the incidence is increasing a ...
Loading Comments...