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Biochem Soc Trans. 2016 Aug 15;44(4):1165-75. doi: 10.1042/BST20160076.

Selection platforms for directed evolution in synthetic biology.

Author information

1
Department of Structural and Molecular Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, U.K.
2
Department of Structural and Molecular Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, U.K. Birkbeck, Department of Biological Sciences, University of London, Malet Street, WC1E 7HX, U.K. v.pinheiro@ucl.ac.uk.

Abstract

Life on Earth is incredibly diverse. Yet, underneath that diversity, there are a number of constants and highly conserved processes: all life is based on DNA and RNA; the genetic code is universal; biology is limited to a small subset of potential chemistries. A vast amount of knowledge has been accrued through describing and characterizing enzymes, biological processes and organisms. Nevertheless, much remains to be understood about the natural world. One of the goals in Synthetic Biology is to recapitulate biological complexity from simple systems made from biological molecules-gaining a deeper understanding of life in the process. Directed evolution is a powerful tool in Synthetic Biology, able to bypass gaps in knowledge and capable of engineering even the most highly conserved biological processes. It encompasses a range of methodologies to create variation in a population and to select individual variants with the desired function-be it a ligand, enzyme, pathway or even whole organisms. Here, we present some of the basic frameworks that underpin all evolution platforms and review some of the recent contributions from directed evolution to synthetic biology, in particular methods that have been used to engineer the Central Dogma and the genetic code.

KEYWORDS:

directed evolution; protein engineering; selection methodologies; synthetic biology; synthetic nucleic acid (XNA); xenobiology

PMID:
27528765
PMCID:
PMC4984445
DOI:
10.1042/BST20160076
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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