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ACS Synth Biol. 2012 Sep 21;1(9):408-13. doi: 10.1021/sb300049p. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Genome replication, synthesis, and assembly of the bacteriophage T7 in a single cell-free reaction.


The synthesis of living entities in the laboratory is a standing challenge that calls for innovative approaches. Using a cell-free transcription-translation system as a molecular programming platform, we show that the bacteriophage T7, encoded by a 40 kbp DNA program composed of about 60 genes, can be entirely synthesized from its genomic DNA in a test tube reaction. More than a billion infectious bacteriophages T7 per milliliter of reaction are produced after a few hours of incubation. The replication of the genomic DNA occurs concurrently with phage gene expression, protein synthesis, and viral assembly. The demonstration that genome-sized viral DNA can be expressed in a test tube, recapitulating the entire chain of information processing including the replication of the DNA instructions, opens new possibilities to program and to study complex biochemical systems in vitro.

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