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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 = {Yu, N and Nützmann, HW and MacDonald, JT and Moore, B and Field, B and Berriri, S and Trick, M and Rosser, SJ and Kumar, SV and Freemont, PS and Osbourn, A},
doi = {nar/gkw100},
journal = {Nucleic Acids Research},
pages = {2255--2265},
title = {Delineation of metabolic gene clusters in plant genomes by chromatin signatures.},
url = {},
volume = {44},
year = {2016}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Plants are a tremendous source of diverse chemicals, including many natural product-derived drugs. It has recently become apparent that the genes for the biosynthesis of numerous different types of plant natural products are organized as metabolic gene clusters, thereby unveiling a highly unusual form of plant genome architecture and offering novel avenues for discovery and exploitation of plant specialized metabolism. Here we show that these clustered pathways are characterized by distinct chromatin signatures of histone 3 lysine trimethylation (H3K27me3) and histone 2 variant H2A.Z, associated with cluster repression and activation, respectively, and represent discrete windows of co-regulation in the genome. We further demonstrate that knowledge of these chromatin signatures along with chromatin mutants can be used to mine genomes for cluster discovery. The roles of H3K27me3 and H2A.Z in repression and activation of single genes in plants are well known. However, our discovery of highly localized operon-like co-regulated regions of chromatin modification is unprecedented in plants. Our findings raise intriguing parallels with groups of physically linked multi-gene complexes in animals and with clustered pathways for specialized metabolism in filamentous fungi.
AU - Yu,N
AU - Nützmann,HW
AU - MacDonald,JT
AU - Moore,B
AU - Field,B
AU - Berriri,S
AU - Trick,M
AU - Rosser,SJ
AU - Kumar,SV
AU - Freemont,PS
AU - Osbourn,A
DO - nar/gkw100
EP - 2265
PY - 2016///
SN - 1362-4962
SP - 2255
TI - Delineation of metabolic gene clusters in plant genomes by chromatin signatures.
T2 - Nucleic Acids Research
UR -
UR -
UR -
VL - 44
ER -