Synthetic Biology for Fundamental Biochemical Discovery

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Synthetic biologists have developed sophisticated molecular and genetic tools to engineer new biochemical functions in cells. Applications for these tools have focused on important problems in energy and medicine, but they can also be applied to address basic science topics that cannot be easily accessed by classical approaches. We focus on recent work that has utilized synthetic biology approaches, ranging from promoter engineering to the de novo synthesis of cellular parts, to investigate a wide range of biochemical and cellular questions. Insights obtained by these efforts include how fatty acid composition mediates cellular metabolism, how transcriptional circuits act to stabilize multicellular networks, and fitness trade-offs involved in the selection of genetic regulatory elements. We also highlight common themes about how "discovery by synthesis" approaches can aid fundamental research. For example, rewiring of native metabolism through metabolic engineering is a powerful tool for investigating biological molecules whose exact composition and abundance are key for function. Meanwhile, endeavors to synthesize cells and their components allow scientists to address evolutionary questions that are otherwise constrained by extant laboratory models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiochemistry
Volume58
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1464-1469
Number of pages6
ISSN0006-2960
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

ID: 172822594