BGI and the University of Manchester have launched a five-year collaboration focused on synthetic biology and metabolic engineering.
The partnership, whose value was not disclosed, will focus on synthetic biology and metabolic engineering of natural products, BGI said, with the goals of promoting academic research, education and industrialization.
The collaboration will draw upon the work of Yizhi (Patrick) Cai, Ph.D., chair in synthetic genomics at the University of Manchester, whose lab is involved with the Synthetic Yeast Genome Project (Sc2.0), which aims to redesign and synthesize a 12-Mb designer yeast genome de novo.
“For the collaboration, researchers from both sides intend to start with the Sc2.0 synthetic yeast as a tool to establish the workflow for high efficient construction and characterization of biosynthesis pathways of natural products, and will gradually extended to industrial strains,” BGI spokeswoman Kristi Heim told GEN.
Among synthetic genomics projects Dr. Cai’s lab is working on, according to his lab website, are the Induced Evolution of Synthetic Yeast genomes (IESY) project, which applies the synthetic chromosome rearrangement and modification by LoxP-mediated evolution (SCRaMbLE) system to generate high-fitness yeast cells with synthetic chromosomes under specific conditions.
Dr. Cai’s lab is also involved in designing and building a transfer RNA (tRNA) neochromosome in yeast that contains all tRNA genes relocated from the synthetic yeast genome, as part of the international synthetic yeast consortium, as well as understanding the structure and function of the budding yeast pericentromere and its role in chromosome segregation, in collaboration with the lab of Adele Marston, Ph.D., of the University of Edinburgh.
Another focus area of Dr. Cai’s lab is DNA synthesis automation and technology development, using liquid-handling robots and other laboratory automation equipment as well as a workflow management system. The lab has developed an extensible mammalian modular assembly kit (EMMA) designed to facilitate efficient design and production of vectors—a method designed to support assembly of combinatorial libraries and hierarchical assembly for production of larger multigenetic cargos.
The collaboration aligns with China’s decade-old interest in advancing synthetic biology. The announcement cited the potential for synthetic biology to provide “profitable…