Papers of the Week – 11th/18th December 2017

Welcome to our pick of papers and articles from last week. These are a collection of the synthetic biology papers that have captured our attention and that we think you should know about. Maybe you’ve seen some others you’d like to tell us about. Send us a comment or tweet us at @synbiobydesign. See last week’s papers here.

RNA encapsulated inside a designed protein structure

This paper contains a synthetic, rationally designed icosahedral protein structure that can hold its own RNA genome. The authors suggest that this method of holding RNA in a protein case can be a solution to the use of viruses as drug therapies or vaccines and have tested the stability of these “nucleocapsids” in blood to strengthen their case.

https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25157

Synthetic scaffolds increase enzyme cascade output

This paper is a great example of using synthetic biology to augment the cells’ natural metabolite production. Synthetic proteins were designed to extend the natural matrix of scaffold proteins in E. coli and bring enzymes together in closer proximity for greater production of the desired metabolite. There’s a nice summary article on this paper here.

https://www.nature.com/articles/nchembio.2535

Single-stranded DNA/RNA origami

This week yet another DNA origami paper features here in our papers of the week. This paper shows that just one strand of DNA or RNA of up to 10,000 nucloetides can predictably fold into a 2D structure. Another advance in the design of origami for potential use in nanotechnology.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6369/eaao2648

CRISPR genetic screens

This paper demonstrates genetic screening using orthogonal CRISPR-Cas9 systems for dual targeting of large cell numbers and machine learning to design the guide RNA sequence. This approach can be used to determine the interactions between genes in complex networks by combining gene knock-outs with transcriptional activation.

https://www.nature.com/articles/nbt.4048

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