Designer Yeast: Building the First Synthetic Eukaryotic Genome
Our studies of synthetic retrotransposons led us to consider redesigning and synthesizing entire eukaryotic chromosomes from scratch. We have led an ambitious collaborative project to build a modified Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome known as Sc2.0. As a proof of concept, the project was initially fueled by an army of undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University in the "Build A Genome" course where students synthesized the "Building Blocks" for the project while learning molecular biology and bioinformatics. The success of this class led us to expand the project into an international consortium, spanning five countries and elevens institutions, working in parallel to build the first in silico designed fully synthetic eukaryotic genome. A new Build A Genome class has recently been launched at NYU in the Department of Biology.
Currently six synthetic chromosomes have been completed (Design of a synthetic yeast genome, Science, 2017), and demonstrated the applications of synthetic chromosomes by SCRaMbLE (Yeast 2.0, Nature Communications, 2018). We are excited to announce that the remaining chromosomes are approaching the finish line and the entirety of all sixteen chromosomes set to be completed and “debugged” by the end of 2020. This global project demonstrates how shared vision and transparent collaboration can pioneer a new way of approaching cutting-edge scientific advancement.