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Synthetic Biology underpins advances in the bioeconomy

Biological systems - including the simplest cells - exhibit a broad range of functions to thrive in their environment. Research in the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology is focused on the possibility of engineering the underlying biochemical processes to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to sustainable energy. In particular, we model, analyse, design and build biological and biochemical systems in living cells and/or in cell extracts, both exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. 

As part of our research we develop novel methods to accelerate the celebrated Design-Build-Test-Learn synthetic biology cycle. As such research in the Centre for Synthetic Biology highly multi- and interdisciplinary covering computational modelling and machine learning approaches; automated platform development and genetic circuit engineering ; multi-cellular and multi-organismal interactions, including gene drive and genome engineering; metabolic engineering; in vitro/cell-free synthetic biology; engineered phages and directed evolution; and biomimetics, biomaterials and biological engineering.



BibTex format

author = {Taylor, G and Mordaka, P and Heap, J},
doi = {nar/gky1182},
journal = {Nucleic Acids Research},
title = {Start-stop assembly: a functionally scarless DNA assembly system optimized for metabolic engineering},
url = {},
year = {2018}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - DNA assembly allows individual DNA constructs or libraries to be assembled quickly and reliably. Most methods are either: (i) Modular, easily scalable and suitable for combinatorial assembly, but leave undesirable ‘scar’ sequences; or (ii) bespoke (non-modular), scarless but less suitable for construction of combinatorial libraries. Both have limitations for metabolic engineering. To overcome this trade-off we devised Start-Stop Assembly, a multi-part, modular DNA assembly method which is both functionally scarless and suitable for combinatorial assembly. Crucially, 3 bp overhangs corresponding to start and stop codons are used to assemble coding sequences into expression units, avoiding scars at sensitive coding sequence boundaries. Building on this concept, a complete DNA assembly framework was designed and implemented, allowing assembly of up to 15 genes from up to 60 parts (or mixtures); monocistronic, operon-based or hybrid configurations; and a new streamlined assembly hierarchy minimising the number of vectors. Only one destination vector is required per organism, reflecting our optimisation of the system for metabolic engineering in diverse organisms. Metabolic engineering using Start-Stop Assembly was demonstrated by combinatorial assembly of carotenoid pathways in E. coli resulting in a wide range of carotenoid production and colony size phenotypes indicating the intended exploration of design space.
AU - Taylor,G
AU - Mordaka,P
AU - Heap,J
DO - nar/gky1182
PY - 2018///
SN - 0305-1048
TI - Start-stop assembly: a functionally scarless DNA assembly system optimized for metabolic engineering
T2 - Nucleic Acids Research
UR -
UR -
ER -