Transforming Synthetic Biology: USC Dornsife’s Innovation in Constructing Synthetic Chromosomes with CReATiNG

by Amir Hussein
Synthetic Biology Revolution

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science has introduced CReATiNG, a groundbreaking method in synthetic biology, which significantly simplifies and reduces the cost of creating synthetic chromosomes from yeast DNA. This technological advancement promises to revolutionize various fields including medicine, biotechnology, and space exploration, as reported by

USC Dornsife’s CReATiNG method marks a significant leap in synthetic biology by streamlining the process of constructing synthetic chromosomes. This approach is expected to drive considerable progress in a range of scientific and medical areas.

Innovative Technique in Synthetic Biology

Developed by researchers at USC Dornsife, CReATiNG (Cloning Reprogramming and Assembling Tiled Natural Genomic DNA) offers a more straightforward and economical method for assembling synthetic chromosomes. This innovation could greatly enhance the field of genetic engineering, with wide-ranging implications in medicine, biotechnology, biofuel production, and space exploration.

Easing the Process of Chromosome Assembly

CReATiNG employs a technique of cloning and reassembling segments of natural DNA from yeast. This enables the creation of synthetic chromosomes capable of substituting their natural counterparts in cells. The method allows for the combination of chromosomes from various yeast strains and species, alteration of chromosome structures, and simultaneous deletion of multiple genes.

Ian Ehrenreich, professor of biological sciences at USC Dornsife and the lead researcher, highlighted that CReATiNG significantly surpasses existing technologies. He stated, “CReATiNG allows for complex genetic reprogramming of organisms in ways that were previously thought to be unachievable, even with cutting-edge tools like CRISPR.” He emphasized the potential of this method in enhancing our fundamental understanding of life and its applications in synthetic biology. The research is set to be published on December 20 in Nature Communications.

Advancements in Genetic Engineering

Synthetic biology has been recognized as a field that enables scientists to control living cells like yeast and bacteria, enhancing our understanding of their functions and enabling the production of beneficial compounds such as new medications.

Ehrenreich noted that synthetic genomics, a branch of synthetic biology involving the synthesis of entire chromosomes or genomes, has traditionally relied on constructing these components from chemically synthesized DNA segments, a process that is both labor-intensive and expensive.

CReATiNG, as elucidated by Agilent postdoctoral fellow Alessandro Coradini, the study’s first author, offers a new approach by utilizing natural DNA segments for assembling entire chromosomes. This method democratizes advanced genetic research, lowering both costs and technical hurdles, and facilitating new scientific and medical breakthroughs.

Potential Applications of CReATiNG

The implications of CReATiNG are particularly noteworthy in biotechnology and medicine. It could lead to more efficient production of pharmaceuticals and biofuels, advancements in cell therapies for diseases such as cancer, and new methods for environmental bioremediation, like creating pollutant-consuming bacteria.

The technique also holds promise for applications in space exploration, potentially enabling the development of microorganisms or plants suited for life in space stations or during extended space missions. However, the researchers note that this application would require significant future research.

One key finding of the study is the observation that rearranging chromosome segments in yeast can significantly affect their growth rates, with some modifications causing up to a 68% increase or decrease in growth. This underscores the substantial impact of genetic structure on biological functions and opens new avenues for research in this area.

The study, titled “Building synthetic chromosomes from natural DNA,” will be published in Nature Communications with a DOI of 10.1038/s41467-023-44112-2.

The research team includes Ian Ehrenreich, Alessandro Coradini, Christopher Ne Ville, Zachary Krieger, Joshua Roemer, Cara Hull, Shawn Yang, and Daniel Lusk from USC Dornsife. It was funded by the National Science Foundation grant 2124400, National Institutes of Health grant R35GM130381, and an Agilent Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Synthetic Biology Revolution

What is the CReATiNG method developed at USC Dornsife?

CReATiNG is a groundbreaking technique developed by researchers at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science. It represents a major advancement in synthetic biology, enabling the simpler and more cost-effective construction of synthetic chromosomes from yeast DNA. This method has the potential to significantly advance various fields, including medicine, biotechnology, and space exploration.

How does the CReATiNG method improve synthetic chromosome construction?

CReATiNG simplifies the process of constructing synthetic chromosomes by cloning and reassembling natural DNA segments from yeast. This allows for the creation of synthetic chromosomes that can replace their natural counterparts in cells. The technique facilitates combining chromosomes from different yeast strains and species, changing chromosome structures, and deleting multiple genes simultaneously, making it a significant improvement over current technologies.

What are the potential applications of the CReATiNG method?

The CReATiNG method has vast potential applications in several fields. In medicine and biotechnology, it could lead to more efficient production of pharmaceuticals and biofuels, and aid in the development of cell therapies for diseases like cancer. In environmental science, it may enable the creation of bacteria that consume pollutants. Additionally, it holds promise for space exploration, potentially aiding in the development of microorganisms or plants that could survive in space.

What are the implications of the CReATiNG method’s findings on yeast growth rates?

The study found that rearranging chromosome segments in yeast using the CReATiNG method can significantly alter their growth rates, with some modifications resulting in up to a 68% faster or slower growth. This discovery highlights the profound impact that genetic structure can have on biological function and opens up new research pathways to further explore these relationships.

Who was involved in the CReATiNG method research and how was it funded?

The research team for the CReATiNG method included Ian Ehrenreich, Alessandro Coradini, Christopher Ne Ville, Zachary Krieger, Joshua Roemer, Cara Hull, Shawn Yang, and Daniel Lusk, all affiliated with USC Dornsife. The study was supported by a National Science Foundation grant, a National Institutes of Health grant, and an Agilent Postdoctoral Fellowship.

More about Synthetic Biology Revolution

  • USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science
  • Nature Communications Journal
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health Grants
  • Agilent Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

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Liz O December 20, 2023 - 12:32 pm

Heard about this on a podcast, the part about space exploration got me. using this for long space missions? that’s wild.

SaraL December 20, 2023 - 3:38 pm

Totally agree, it’s amazing how they’re using yeast DNA to make new chromosomes, that’s like sci-fi stuff becoming real.

Mark T December 20, 2023 - 10:40 pm

i read about this in another article, the potential for medicine and biotech is just mind-blowing, imagine the kind of treatments we could see in the future.

Jake M December 20, 2023 - 11:36 pm

wow, this is huge for science, right? synthetic biology is like, really taking off and USC’s on top of it with this CReATiNG thing.

Rajesh K December 21, 2023 - 7:11 am

Isn’t it risky messing with chromosomes and genes like this? I mean, it sounds great but what about the ethical side of it? just a thought…


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