Archive for May, 2010

Cell synthesized

Scientists create synthetic cell, version 1.0 | [paper]

Our synthetic genomic approach stands in sharp contrast to a variety of other approaches to genome engineering that modify natural genomes by introducing multiple insertions, substitutions, or deletions (18–22). This work provides a proof of principle for producing cells based upon genome sequences designed in the computer. DNA sequencing of a cellular genome allows storage of the genetic instructions for life as a digital file.

This seems significant, equivalent to booting up the first stored-program computer.

Scientists who were not involved in the study are cautioning that the new species is not a truly synthetic life form because its genome was put into an existing cell.

That’s sour grapes, because the original cell cytoplasm decays to zero exponentially fast in the number of replications, a point well made in the paper. It’s only needed for booting. What’s more useful to know is how much of the 1.08Mbp genome consists of existing genes. The paper says it’s a close copy of M. mycoides:

The synthetic genome described in this paper has only limited modifications from the naturally occurring M. mycoides genome. However, the approach we have developed should be applicable to the synthesis and transplantation of more.

The next step will be a basic cell with a minimal genome, a barebones cell OS, if you will. Then, on to synthetic functions. Pretty soon we’ll have cell API’s, fancy-pants programming frameworks, and bugs and viruses. I mean real ones.

can you tell Asians apart?

There is a Chinese, a Japanese, and a Korean in here. Identify them.

As for the answer:
(Read the article)

wow, discontinuity

(Read the article)