News – December 14, 2013

Metabolic reconstruction and the concepts of species

Strain specific features were predicted using genome-scale models of the metabolism of 55 strains of Escherichia coli and Shigella in a recent study.

From Monk, J.M., et al., (2013).
From Monk, J.M., et al., (2013).

By simulating the metabolism of the 55 strains on different growth conditions, the authors were able to take glimpse at potential auxotrophies and to classify the strains by metabolic phenotypes, providing evidence in support for a classification based on metabolic capabilities: bacterial species can be defined on the basis of a “core” metabolism and bacterial strains on the basis of niche-specific features.

After experimentally validating a selected sample of their predictions, the authors determined a 80% of accuracy.

Living metaphors

A critical account and a call for the more reserved use of the term “Synthetic Biology” are presented in a recent publication where it is argued that many metabolic engineering and biotechnology studies are often classified as Synthetic Biology studies when there seems to be no clear distinction. After reviewing the state of affairs on a number of branches of so-called Synthetic Biology, including the iGEM competition, the authors give some guidelines for the correct use of the term.

Short RNA-secreting B lymphocytes

A recent publication reports that primary B lymphocytes can be transfected with nonviral plasmid DNA and secrete anti-miR-150.


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