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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2010 Oct;21(5):697-703. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2010.06.008. Epub 2010 Jul 16.

Update on designing and building minimal cells.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


Minimal cells comprise only the genes and biomolecular machinery necessary for basic life. Synthesizing minimal and minimized cells will improve understanding of core biology, enhance development of biotechnology strains of bacteria, and enable evolutionary optimization of natural and unnatural biopolymers. Design and construction of minimal cells is proceeding in two different directions: 'top-down' reduction of bacterial genomes in vivo and 'bottom-up' integration of DNA/RNA/protein/membrane syntheses in vitro. Major progress in the past 5 years has occurred in synthetic genomics, minimization of the Escherichia coli genome, sequencing of minimal bacterial endosymbionts, identification of essential genes, and integration of biochemical systems.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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