Research Articles Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome Daniel G. Gibson,1 John I. Glass,1 Carole Lartigue,1 Vladimir N. Noskov,1 Ray-Yuan Chuang,1 Mikkel A. Algire,1 Gwynedd A. Benders,2 Michael G. Montague,1 Li Ma,1 Monzia M. Moodie,1 Chuck Merryman,1 Sanjay Vashee,1 Radha Krishnakumar,1 Nacyra Assad-Garcia,1 Cynthia Andrews-Pfannkoch,1 Evgeniya A. Denisova,1 Lei Young,1 Zhi-Qing Qi,1 Thomas H. Segall-Shapiro,1 Christopher H. Calvey,1 Prashanth P. Parmar,1 Clyde A. Hutchison, III,2 Hamilton O. Smith,2 J. Craig Venter1,2,*
We report the design, synthesis, and assembly of the 1.08-Mbp Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 genome starting from digitized genome sequence information and its transplantation into a Mycoplasma capricolum recipient cell to create new Mycoplasma mycoides cells that are controlled only by the synthetic chromosome. The only DNA in the cells is the designed synthetic DNA sequence, including "watermark" sequences and other designed gene deletions and polymorphisms, and mutations acquired during the building process. The new cells have expected phenotypic properties and are capable of continuous self-replication.
1 The J. Craig Venter Institute, 9704 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850, USA. 2 The J. Craig Venter Institute, 10355 Science Center Drive, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.
* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: email@example.com
What Venter and company did was sequence a bacterial genome, duplicate the genome in a sequencer, inserted the sequencer-made genome into a cell replacing its natural genome then watched it continue to live and reproduce.
No great surprise, here. An Adenine molecule in position 2754 on chromosome 8 is chemically identical in form and function to any other Adenine molecule whether it was placed there by the cells natural mechanisms or by a sequencer unit.
What is significant about this experiment is that this is the first time in genetic engineering an entire genome has been sequencer produced without any of the naturally produced genome used in the resultant cell. This is significant in that it evidences that no spooky supernatural power, element or “breath of god” is necessary (since the sequencer unit is incapable of producing such things) in the genome for the processes of life to occur. Though it does not disprove a designer, rather than evidencing a designer this experiment shows that the operation of the genome is purely, and only, chemistry.
Second, though it is still cheaper and more effective to leave the natural genome in place, changing only those parts we want artificially to produce whatever application we are trying to achieve, as our knowledge of the intricacies of the genome and the resultant proteomics progresses, it may become more feasible to sequence an entirely unique genome to insert in a cell and we now know we can do that.
What is significant about this experiment is that this is the first time in genetic engineering an entire genome has been sequencer produced without any of the naturally produced genome used in the resultant cell.
The potential of this process for biogenic drugs is ... inspiring.
My last chemo drug was biogenic -- produce by bacteria bred to make it in quantity.
Could you enlighten me to the pros and cons of this. ... You mentioned the drug benefits....how so? And then you mentioned the dangers.
Pros: Need a drug or chemical manufactured in large quantities quickly and cheaply? Design a bacteria that eats something relatively mundane (corn mush for instance) and that poops what you want (most likely along with other stuff hopefully easily filtered out). Or how about a bacteria that eats staph infections?
Cons: Maybe you mess up and the bacteria that you engineered to eat staph and be nearly immune to antibiotics (so they could be used in conjunction) ends up mutating and instead of eating staph now eats flesh like staph. Now you just created a super-infection. Or maybe your corn-mush-eating-insulin-pooping bacteria gets into a farmer's corn field and turns it into insulin-on-the-cob and ruins the crops (maybe kills some people too).
You mentioned the drug benefits....how so? And then you mentioned the dangers.
As RAZD and Phage mentioned the benefit of having a bacteria spawn in great beer vats producing whatever drug of choice from insulin to biogenic amines will make such treatments more widely available and drop the costs to pennies per hundred doses instead of $$ per dose today.
Today most, if not all drugs, are proteins or molecules discovered and taken from natural substances. Designer molecules are difficult and expensive to make, even for testing purposes, and designer proteins are next to impossible except in the most simple short-chain varieties. Using designer genomes in bacterium will change this.
How about a designed bacterium that eats and cleans-up after an oil spill in some place like, oh I don't know, like maybe the Gulf of Mexico?
The dangers are legion. Besides the obvious human design errors that could inadvertently be placed into a bacterium with unintended consequences how about intentional designer plagues? The prospect of an Ebola-like hemorrhagic bacteria specifically targeted only to Blacks, Semites or Northern Europeans comes to mind.
This is significant in that it evidences that no spooky supernatural power, element or “breath of god” is necessary
It should be noted that a lot of Creationists do not even consider insects to be "life", because they are not nefesh creatures with blood.
the bible states that the "life is in the blood".
While we should expect lifeforms to certainly require an intelligent agency to put in the quartinary coding, I don't necessarily think that we should expect supernatural activity to be necessary when we are basically obeying the priniciples of nature.
i.e. It would be very odd if DNA did not work, given that we would expect it to in an orderly universe whereby certain mechanics should work, as they are set-up to work.