Bioretrosynthesis for the manufacturing of complex molecules from simple substrates

Development of chemical synthetic schemes for a particular molecule is typically carried out in the retrosynthetic fashion by organic chemists. Specifically, organic chemists analysed the chemical structure of the molecule of interest, identify possible reaction schemes capable of generating the various functional groups present in the molecule, and finally sequence the chemical reactions in a … More Bioretrosynthesis for the manufacturing of complex molecules from simple substrates

Cell-free biocatalysis

Enzymes catalysed biochemical reactions and thus biotransformation for producing useful products are commonly carried out using whole cell biocatalysis, where the cell serves as carrier for the enzymes important to converting the substrate to product. However, due to multiple competing reactions in the cell, it is desired to achieve higher productivity and purity of products … More Cell-free biocatalysis

Bottom-up biology illuminating the secrets of life

Biological research is typically pursued using the top-down approach where scientists seek to understand the fundamental underpinnings of life by dissecting the various components of cells using increasingly refined techniques and instruments. However, there is a recent trend of studying the principles that govern cellular processes using bottom-up approaches.   Specifically, in what is known … More Bottom-up biology illuminating the secrets of life

Enzymatic DNA synthesis could help reduce cost of DNA synthesis

Chemical-based DNA synthesis is the critical enabling tool of synthetic biology. Specifically, genes or fragments of DNA could be chemically synthesised using phosphoramidite chemistry for use in applications such as gene cloning; thus, significantly reducing the time and expense needed for molecular cloning. Typically, short fragments of DNA are synthesised which are subsequently stitched into … More Enzymatic DNA synthesis could help reduce cost of DNA synthesis

De novo enzyme design achieves good enzymatic activity

Improvement in enzyme activity typically arise from the introduction of mutations into the enzyme’s amino acid sequence. This is followed by a high throughput screen of the mutant enzymes for desired activity levels. Usually, a few mutants with enhanced activity for a given substrate could be obtained. Mutations could be introduced to an enzyme through … More De novo enzyme design achieves good enzymatic activity

DNA writers for encoding cellular signals into the genome

Myriad cellular signals are generated through various regulatory activities for processes in metabolism and signal transduction. But the challenge has been in understanding these cellular signal transduction events that have largely remained hidden from our view. Using DNA writing technologies, researchers have been able to encode some of these previously hidden intracellular messages and signals … More DNA writers for encoding cellular signals into the genome

Enzyme likely evolved from a high temperature to a low temperature environment

Given that the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) cells likely existed in alkaline hydrothermal vents in the ocean, enzymes that exist by that time in life’s evolution should be ones adapted to high temperature environments. Thus, in progressing from a high to low temperature environment, enzymes likely took a path down the energy ladder in … More Enzyme likely evolved from a high temperature to a low temperature environment

RNA-seq may be a better option at profiling the transcriptome than protein microarray

RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) enables the profiling of the transcriptome of cells where mRNA generated by transcription would be sequenced to yield the identities of the transcripts. Thus, RNA-seq provides a comprehensive view of gene expression since it has access to both protein-based transcripts as well as non-protein (i.e., RNA) transcripts. Such capability meant that RNA-seq … More RNA-seq may be a better option at profiling the transcriptome than protein microarray

Differential transcriptional start sites modulate gene expression

Adjacent to the promoter lies the transcriptional start sites of genes that define the starting point of the mRNA transcript. However, there are genes with multiple transcriptional start sites that define slightly different variants of the same mRNA transcript. Such variants of the same mRNA transcript typically have different 5’ untranslated region that may impact … More Differential transcriptional start sites modulate gene expression

CRISPR activation could enhance gene expression

Besides genome editing, modifications made to the Cas9 endonuclease of CRISPR (clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats) have enabled the technique to be used for purposes such as gene activation, gene repression, and modifying the epigenome. The key lies in inactivating the Cas9 protein’s endonuclease activity through the introduction of two point mutations at the … More CRISPR activation could enhance gene expression