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(74a) Challenges and Opportunities in Synthetic Biology

Authors: 
Zhao, H., University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Synthetic biology is the deliberate design of novel or improved biological systems and organisms that draws on principles elucidated by biologists, chemists, physicists, and engineers (1).  It is a rapidly growing area with broad applications in medical, chemical, food, and agricultural industries and particularly has become a powerful engine for the exponential growth of the white biotechnology industry.  In this talk, I will briefly discuss the challenges and opportunities in synthetic biology and highlight our recent work on the development and application of novel synthetic biology tools for biotechnological applications.  Specifically, I will discuss two projects including (a) discovery, characterization, and engineering of novel natural product biosynthetic pathways for drug discovery and development (2,3); (b) development of novel genome-scale engineering tools for strain development and cell line creation (4-5).

  1. H. Zhao. Synthetic Biology: Tools and Applications. Elsevier, 2013. pp350.
  2. Y. Luo, H. Huang, J. Liang, M. Wang, L. Lu, Z. Shao, R. Cobb, and H. Zhao. “Activation and Characterization of a Cryptic Polycyclic Tetramate Macrolactam Biosynthetic Gene Cluster.” Nature Communications, 4: 2894 (2013).
  3. Z. Shao, G. Rao, C. Li, Z. Abil, Y. Luo, and H. Zhao. “Refactoring the Silent Spectinabilin Biosynthetic Gene Cluster Using a Plug-and-Play Scaffold.” ACS Synthetic Biology, 2, 662-669 (2013).
  4. Z. Shao, H. Zhao, and H. Zhao. “DNA Assembler, an in vivo Genetic Method for Rapid Construction of Biochemical Pathways.” Nucleic Acids Research, 37, e16 (2009).
  5. T. Si, Y. Luo, Z. Bao, and H. Zhao. “RNAi-Assisted Genome Evolution in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for Complex Phenotype Engineering.” ACS Synthetic Biology, in press.
  6. J. Liang, R. Chao, Z. Bao, N. Sun, Z. Abil, and H. Zhao.“FairyTALE: A High-throughput TAL Effector Synthesis Platform.” ACS Synthetic Biology, 3, 67-73 (2014).