Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Creating a Parallel Biological World with a Genetic Firewall

18.04.2011
Breaking new ground in whole-cell catalysis using artificial bacteria

In the UniCat Cluster of Excellence (Unifying Concepts in Catalysis) in Berlin, a new concept is being developed by biochemist Nediljko Budisa in collaboration with French biologist Philippe Marlière that aims to equip industrial bacteria for new catalytic functions. They call this new technique „codon emancipation“.

At the same time a genetic firewall is established, making the bacteria dependent on a special growth medium. This means that they cannot survive in a natural set-ting, making the transfer of genes into the environment impossible.

Budisa and Marlière hope to replace old-fashioned natural chemistry with a new type of science. This development is to be achieved through the directed evolution of more natural, faster-growing bacteria in a test tube. “These cells are, in a manner of speaking, in a parallel world,” explains Budisa. They cannot exchange their genetic information with other creatures; they are equipped with a genetic firewall.”

At the start of the process the bacteria will in fact grow very badly in the synthetic growth medium with the non-natural amino acids. But by cultivating them for several generations, they will eventually become „codon emancipated”. „Codon emancipation” offers the possibility of providing living systems with new chemistry. On the one hand, the way to artificial biological diversity is viewed with scepticism in scientific circles. But on the other, if the process is successful then the resulting cells will be enormously useful in industry. For example, new environmentally friendly bio catalysts for manufacturing fuel, new active ingredients for medicinal products and more environmentally friendly biomaterials are just some conceivable uses. At the same time this project provides the scientific community with an opportunity to consider problems and misgivings concerning the biosafety of synthetic organisms and to address these publicly.

The chemically modified bacteria will theoretically be viable for an unlimited period of time in genetic isolation from natural species. As soon as the non-natural amino acids are no longer provided in the growth medium, they will die. The “codon emancipation” therefore constructs a "genetic firewall" against a potential genetic exchange between artificial and natural cells.

Philippe Marlière explains, “We plan to rewrite the entire genomic text of the microbes in the test tubes through cumulative mutations, creating quick-growing cells with permanent evolutionary pressure. To do this, we have developed an automaton, what is known as a “gene machine” over the course of the last ten years.”

These developments are at the forefront of synthetic biology. The work of the renowned Americans Craig Venter and George Church is in contrast more or less within the framework of classic genetic engineering, based as it is on the copying and resynthesising of structures that are present in nature with the help of synthetic DNA oligomers.

Matthias Driess, Chair of the UniCat Cluster of Excellence, is enthusiastic about the prospects for the work based on the joint expertise of Budisa and Marlière. “This will be an excellent reinforcement to the bio part of our Cluster. Philippe is a superb innovator, while Nediljko is an original thinker with a superb intellectual profile and a hard worker who has followed his own original ideas and ambitious targets for decades, without being distracted by the scientific mainstream or the fashions in the German research scene, by which I mean he successfully swims against all the tides. We anticipate not only the development of a unique whole-cell catalyst, but also the development of artificial life forms with functions that have not yet been invented by natural evolution.”

The genetic code and the concept of „codon emancipation“

The genetic code was solved in 1966 and is identical for all living creatures. This means that in every organism, a specific sequence of nucleic acids in the DNA carries the same protein molecule.

The genetic code determines the way in which the sequence of bases adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T) are translated into protein. Every three bases stand for one amino acid, in a triplet known as a codon. There are only 64 codons that generate 20 amino acids. This means that the majority of amino acids are encoded by several codons.

For example, the amino acid arginine can be represented using the six codons CGG, CGA, CGC, CGU, AGG and AGA. AGG and AGA are used very seldom in bacteria such as Escherichia coli. Thus theoretically, for example, all AGGs in the genetic makeup of a living creature could be allocated a new, non-natural amino acid. The cell is then said to be “codon emancipated”, meaning that the old chemistry has been replaced with new.

The Cluster of Excellence Unifying Concepts in Catalysis (UniCat)

“Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) is the sole Cluster of Excellence researching the economically important field of catalysis. More than 250 chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers from four universities and two Max Planck research institutes from Berlin and Potsdam are involved in this interdisciplinary research network. The Cluster is hosted by the Technische Universität Berlin. UniCat receives funding of approximately 5.6 million Euro each year as part of the Excellence Initiative of the German Research Foundation.

For further information, please contact:
Prof. Dr. Nediljko Budisa, TU Berlin, Department of Chemistry
Tel.: + 49 (0) 30 314-23 661, E-Mail: budisa@biocat.tu-berlin.de
www.biocat.tu-berlin.de
Dr. Martin Penno, UniCat Cluster of Excellence, Public Relations Officer, TU Berlin, Tel.: + 49 (0) 30 314-28 592, E-Mail: martin.penno@tu-berlin.de

References:

Hoesl, M. and Budisa, N. (2011). In Vivo Incorporation of Multiple Noncanonical Amino Acids into Proteins. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 50, 2896-2902.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201005680/full

Schmidt, M. (2010), Xenobiology: A new form of life as the ultimate biosafety tool. BioEssays, 32, 322–331

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bies.200900147/abstract

Marliere P. (2009). The farther, the safer: a manifesto for securely navigating synthetic species away from the old living world. Syst. Synth. Biol. 3, 77-84.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/j504q5032553n326/

Budisa, N. (2004). Prolegomena to future experimental efforts on genetic code engineering by expanding its amino acid repertoire. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 43, 6426-6463.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.200300646/abstract

Stefanie Terp | idw
Further information:
http://www.tu-berlin.de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Was passiert, wenn wir das Atomgitter eines Magneten plötzlich aufheizen?

„Wir haben jetzt ein klares Bild davon, wie das heiße Atomgitter und die kalten magnetischen Spins eines ferrimagnetischen Nichtleiters miteinander ins Gleichgewicht gelangen“, sagt Ilie Radu, Wissenschaftler am Max-Born-Institut in Berlin. Das internationale Forscherteam fand heraus, dass eine Energieübertragung sehr schnell stattfindet und zu einem neuartigen Zustand der Materie führt, in dem die Spins zwar heiß sind, aber noch nicht ihr gesamtes magnetisches Moment verringert haben. Dieser „Spinüberdruck“ wird durch wesentlich langsamere Prozesse abgebaut, die eine Abgabe von Drehimpuls an das Gitter ermöglichen. Die Forschungsergebnisse sind jetzt in "Science Advances" erschienen.

Magnete faszinieren die Menschheit bereits seit mehreren tausend Jahren und sind im Zeitalter der digitalen Datenspeicherung von großer praktischer Bedeutung....

Im Focus: Erste Beweise für Quelle extragalaktischer Teilchen

Zum ersten Mal ist es gelungen, die kosmische Herkunft höchstenergetischer Neutrinos zu bestimmen. Eine Forschungsgruppe um IceCube-Wissenschaftlerin Elisa Resconi, Sprecherin des Sonderforschungsbereichs SFB1258 an der Technischen Universität München (TUM), liefert ein wichtiges Indiz in der Beweiskette, dass die vom Neutrino-Teleskop IceCube am Südpol detektierten Teilchen mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit von einer Galaxie in vier Milliarden Lichtjahren Entfernung stammen.

Um andere Ursprünge mit Gewissheit auszuschließen, untersuchte das Team um die Neutrino-Physikerin Elisa Resconi von der TU München und den Astronom und...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetische Wirbel: Erstmals zwei magnetische Skyrmionenphasen in einem Material entdeckt

Erstmals entdeckte ein Forscherteam in einem Material zwei unabhängige Phasen mit magnetischen Wirbeln, sogenannten Skyrmionen. Die Physiker der Technischen Universitäten München und Dresden sowie von der Universität zu Köln können damit die Eigenschaften dieser für Grundlagenforschung und Anwendungen gleichermaßen interessanten Magnetstrukturen noch eingehender erforschen.

Strudel kennt jeder aus der Badewanne: Wenn das Wasser abgelassen wird, bilden sie sich kreisförmig um den Abfluss. Solche Wirbel sind im Allgemeinen sehr...

Im Focus: Neue Steuerung der Zellteilung entdeckt

Wenn eine Zelle sich teilt, werden sämtliche ihrer Bestandteile gleichmässig auf die Tochterzellen verteilt. UZH-Forschende haben nun ein Enzym identifiziert, das sicherstellt, dass auch Zellbestandteile ohne Membran korrekt aufgeteilt werden. Ihre Entdeckung eröffnet neue Möglichkeiten für die Behandlung von Krebs, neurodegenerative Krankheiten, Alterungsprozessen und Virusinfektionen.

Man kennt es aus der Küche: Werden Aceto balsamico und Olivenöl miteinander vermischt, trennen sich die beiden Flüssigkeiten. Runde Essigtropfen formen sich,...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industrie & Wirtschaft
Veranstaltungen

Interdisziplinäre Konferenz: Diabetesforscher und Bioingenieure diskutieren Forschungskonzepte

13.07.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Feintuning für Oberflächen

12.07.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Materialien für eine Nachhaltige Wasserwirtschaft – MachWas-Konferenz in Frankfurt am Main

11.07.2018 | Veranstaltungen

VideoLinks
Wissenschaft & Forschung
Weitere VideoLinks im Überblick >>>
 
Aktuelle Beiträge

Vertikales Begrünungssystem Biolit Vertical Green<sup>®</sup> auf Landesgartenschau Würzburg

16.07.2018 | Architektur Bauwesen

Feinstaub macht Bäume anfälliger gegen Trockenheit

16.07.2018 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Wie Krebszellen Winterschlaf halten

16.07.2018 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Weitere B2B-VideoLinks
IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics