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BGI and Johns Hopkins University to collaborate on Sc2.0 synthetic yeast project

China-based BGI and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) signed a collaborative research agreement for the Sc2.0 (a newly designed version of Saccharomyces cerevisiae) project, a synthetic biology project which seeks to re-design and synthesize the yeast genome. This project was initiated by JHU and serves as part of JHU’s synthetic biology program.

In addition to the research collaboration of Sc2.0 project, BGI’s researchers will have the opportunity to access the synthetic biology expertise of JHU. They can attend for internship the undergraduate course, “Build-A-Genome,” associated with the project at JHU. During the course, they can perform synthesis of segments of the synthetic yeast genome by themselves.

With a well-understood genome and the wide applications of yeast in bioremediation, food processing, medicine, etc, yeast has been an excellent model organism used in the studies of synthetic biology. In the Sc2.0 project, the yeast S. cerevisiae is used as the basis for a newly engineered life form that resulted from specific alternations incorporated into the synthetic chromosomes. The “synthetic yeast” approach can be used to answer a wide variety of questions about fundamental properties of chromosomes, genome organization, gene content, the function of RNA splicing, and questions relating to genome structure and evolution.

The rapid development of high-throughput sequencing technology has led to a boom in genomic information of different organisms, which also facilitates the rapid detection and identification of synthetic systems and organisms. Meanwhile, it could help synthetic biologists to verify an engineered biological system as proposed, given that the DNA sequences of the single gene or entire genome are designed by computer and then built by chemical synthesis.

As the first artificial eukaryotic cell genome project, Sc2.0 Project will play a significant role in the history of the development of biotechnology. With the rapid development of next generation sequencing technology, I believe we can seek much better solutions to face the challenges in Synthetic Biology. We really appreciate this opportunity to collaborate with JHU. With this project, I believe BGI will be able to explore more opportunities for valuable research in human disease and biomedical areas.

—Yue Shen, Head of Synthetic Biology Unit at BGI.

BGI was founded in Beijing, China in 1999 with the mission of being a premier scientific partner to the global research community. The goal of BGI is to make leading-edge genomic science highly accessible through its investment in infrastructure that leverages the best available technology, economies of scale, and expert bioinformatics resources. BGI, and its affiliates, BGI Americas and BGI Europe, have established partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and government research institutions as well as global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, supporting a variety of disease, agricultural, environmental, and related applications.

BGI has established a proven track record, delivering results with high efficiency and accuracy for research which has generated more than 170 publications in top-tier journals such as Nature and Science. These accomplishments include sequencing 1% of the human genome for the International Human Genome Project; contributing 10% to the International Human HapMap Project; carrying out research to combat SARS and German E. coli; playing a key role in the Sino-British Chicken Genome Project; and completing the sequence of the rice genome; the silkworm genome; the first Asian diploid genome; the potato genome; and, most recently, 1,000 genomes and human Gut metagenome.


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