• DNA assembly;
  • genome engineering;
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
  • synthetic biology;
  • synthetic genomics;
  • yeast

A team of US researchers recently reported the design, assembly and in vivo functionality of a synthetic chromosome III (SynIII) for the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The synthetic chromosome was assembled bottom-up from DNA oligomers by teams of students working over several years with researchers as the first part of an international synthetic yeast genome project. Embedded into the sequence of the synthetic chromosome are multiple design changes that include a novel in-built recombination scheme that can be induced to catalyse intra-chromosomal rearrangements in a variety of different conditions. This system, along with the other synthetic sequence changes, is intended to aid researchers develop a deeper understanding of how genomes function and find new ways to exploit yeast in future biotechnologies. The landmark of the first synthesised designer eukaryote chromosome, and the power of its massively parallel recombination system, provide new perspectives on the future of synthetic biology and genome research.