First synthetic yeast chromosome revealed

Ewan Callaway in Nature:

Nature-yeast-chromosome-carousel It took geneticist Craig Venter 15 years and US$40 million to synthesize the genome of a bacterial parasite. Today, an academic team made up mostly of undergraduate students reports the next leap in synthetic life: the redesign and production of a fully functional chromosome from the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

As a eukaryote, a category that includes humans and other animals, S. cerevisiae has a more complex genome than Venter's parasite. The synthetic yeast chromosome — which has been stripped of some DNA sequences and other elements — is 272,871 base pairs long, representing about 2.5% of the 12-million-base-pair S. cerevisiae genome.The researchers, who report their accomplishment in Science1, have formed an international consortium to create a synthetic version of the full S. cerevisiae genome within 5 years. “This is a pretty impressive demonstration of not just DNA synthesis, but redesign of an entire eukaryotic chromosome,” says Farren Isaacs, a bioengineer at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, who was not involved in the work. “You can see that they are systematically paving the way for a new era of biology based on the redesign of genomes.” The project began a few years ago, when Jef Boeke, a yeast geneticist at New York University, set out to synthesize the baker’s yeast genome with much more drastic alterations than those demonstrated by Venter and his team in 2010.

More here.