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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 = {Kelwick, RJR and Webb, AJ and MacDonald, JT and Freemont, PS},
doi = {10.1016/j.ymben.2016.09.008},
journal = {Metabolic Engineering},
pages = {370--381},
title = {Development of a Bacillus subtilis cell-free transcription-translation system for prototyping regulatory elements},
url = {},
volume = {38},
year = {2016}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Cell-free transcription-translation systems were originally applied towards in vitro protein production. More recently, synthetic biology is enabling these systems to be used within a systematic design context for prototyping DNA regulatory elements, genetic logic circuits and biosynthetic pathways. The Gram-positive soil bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, is an established model organism of industrial importance. To this end, we developed several B. subtilis-based cell-free systems. Our improved B. subtilis WB800N-based system was capable of producing 0.8 µM GFP, which gave a ~72x fold-improvement when compared with a B. subtilis 168 cell-free system. Our improved system was applied towards the prototyping of a B. subtilis promoter library in which we engineered several promoters, derived from the wild-type Pgrac (σA) promoter, that display a range of comparable in vitro and in vivo transcriptional activities. Additionally, we demonstrate the cell-free characterisation of an inducible expression system, and the activity of a model enzyme - renilla luciferase.
AU - Kelwick,RJR
AU - Webb,AJ
AU - MacDonald,JT
AU - Freemont,PS
DO - 10.1016/j.ymben.2016.09.008
EP - 381
PY - 2016///
SN - 1096-7184
SP - 370
TI - Development of a Bacillus subtilis cell-free transcription-translation system for prototyping regulatory elements
T2 - Metabolic Engineering
UR -
UR -
VL - 38
ER -