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Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center

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One of Synberc’s four primary research efforts is to build cellular chassis that supply the components necessary for cell growth and device function.

Leader: J. Christopher Anderson
University of California, Berkeley
Department of Biological Engineering

Current methods to create cellular chasses require labor-intensive and time-consuming genetic engineering techniques. Moreover, these techniques only permit serial introduction of a single DNA construct into cells at low efficiencies. High-throughput and automated methodologies to rapidly and efficiently make both site-specific and large-scale manipulations of genomes do not currently exist. To address this challenge, we are developing new methods that combine large-scale DNA synthesis techniques with engineered recombination strategies to develop fast and cost–effective construction of de novo gene systems, or cellular chasses. To achieve these cellular chasses goals, we employ a multi-faceted approach that includes:

Genome engineering technology development

Automated and scalable methods of genome engineering (see also MAGE:

Proof-of-concept biological experiments that leverage the unique expertise of the entire Synberc team

Our Chassis thrust focuses on developing chassis components that will support our test beds (especially E. Coli) and devices. Synberc PIs are also working to build a second chromosome for E.coli that will allow us to integrate large sequences of DNA into the cell and isolate their function from the cell’s native chromosome. In addition, PIs who work within this thrust are creating a series of safety control mechanisms on the chassis, as well as analytical methods to assay for chassis function.

Our chassis work complements our efforts in our Devices Thrust, enabling us to integrate signals from devices subsystems to allow complex cellular function. The cellular chassis must supply all of the components necessary for cell growth and device function; it must have standard connections so that devices generated to a particular standard can be readily integrated into it; and must be robust enough that it can and will be used by our industrial partners and the broader synthetic biology community for various engineering projects.