Biology: An artificial cell grows and divides like a real cell – J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI)

In 2016, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) created a single-celled artificial organism that contained just 473 genes and was the simplest known living cell produced in a laboratory. This bacteria-like organism had only one problem – as it grows and divides, it produces cells that are irregular in shape and of varying sizes. Problem solved – to notify TVP Nauka.

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The latest research by JCVI biologists has identified seven genes that, when introduced into a microorganism, caused it to begin dividing like a normal cell. This reinvented variant contains less than 500 genes.

For comparison, the common E. coli bacteria that live in the intestine has about 4000. Genes – similar to the site TVP Science.

In recent years, synthetic biology has begun to develop dynamically. The goal of this scientific discipline is to create artificial biological systems that follow the pattern of the natural environment.

The identification of these genes represented a breakthrough in the engineering of cells created in laboratory. Scientists in the field of synthetic biology can use knowledge of the genome of synthetic cells to produce organisms for industry and medicine.

The world’s first cell containing an artificial genome was created in 2010. The scientists used a simple type of bacteria, mycoplasma, to create the cell.

Researchers first destroy the bacteria’s DNA and then replace it with DNA synthesized in the laboratory. Since then, scientists have been trying to understand the basic principles of how living things work. Genetic manipulation allows us to observe how changes in the genome affect cell growth.

The goal of further research by JCVI scientists is to understand the function of each gene in the synthetic cell. Of the seven newly added genes, the researchers learned that only two of them were functional. The role of the other five remains a mystery.

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