Heinemann, Ilka U. Department of Biochemistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
O’Donoghue, Patrick Department of Biochemistry and Department of Chemistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
Last reviewed:July 2021
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- Origins of synthetic biology in molecular biology, genomics, and directed evolution
- Molecular biology
- From DNA sequencing to genomics
- Protein engineering and directed evolution
- Use of synthetic biology approaches to reveal new biology and produce designer molecules and cells
- Genome editing
- Genome synthesis
- Expansion of the genetic code with new amino acids and nucleotides
- Synthetic biology applications in medicine
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A biological discipline that relies on the tools of molecular biology, genomics, and directed evolution to engineer genomes, metabolic pathways, enzymes, and cells. Synthetic biology is a new and emerging biological field of science in which the foundational disciplines of molecular biology, genomics, and directed evolution are utilized for engineering purposes, including protein and nucleic acid engineering (see illustration). In particular, synthetic biology technologies are designed to generate reproducible cellular factories for the synthesis of designer polymers, chemicals, and medicines. Key technological methods in synthetic biology include genome editing, genome synthesis, and genetic code expansion. Overall, synthetic biology approaches are leading to a number of novel applications in medicine. Three important applications are (1) the design of synthetic molecules and cells to probe and expand biological function, (2) metabolic engineering to produce chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and (3) biomedical applications in therapeutic antibodies and gene-edited cell therapy. See also: Biotechnology; Cell (biology); Cell biology; Evolution; Genetic engineering; Genetics; Genomics; Molecular biology
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