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Trends Biotechnol. 2006 Jan;24(1):28-38. Epub 2005 Nov 18.

Directed evolution of metabolic pathways.

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  • 1Farasis Energy, Inc., 23575 Cabot Blvd., Hayward, CA 94545, USA.


The modification of cellular metabolism is of biotechnological and commercial significance because naturally occurring metabolic pathways are the source of diverse compounds used in fields ranging from medicine to bioremediation. Directed evolution is the experimental improvement of biocatalysts or cellular properties through iterative genetic diversification and selection procedures. The creation of novel metabolic functions without disrupting the balanced intracellular pool of metabolites is the primary challenge of pathway manipulation. The introduction of coordinated changes across multiple genetic elements, in conjunction with functional selection, presents an integrated approach for the modification of metabolism with benign physiological consequences. Directed evolution formats take advantage of the dynamic structures of genomes and genomic sub-structures and their ability to evolve in multiple directions in response to external stimuli. The elucidation, design and application of genome-restructuring mechanisms are key elements in the directed evolution of cellular metabolic pathways.

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