Cell-free synthetic biology: Thinking outside the cell

C. Eric Hodgman, Michael C. Jewett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cell-free synthetic biology is emerging as a powerful approach aimed to understand, harness, and expand the capabilities of natural biological systems without using intact cells. Cell-free systems bypass cell walls and remove genetic regulation to enable direct access to the inner workings of the cell. The unprecedented level of control and freedom of design, relative to . in vivo systems, has inspired the rapid development of engineering foundations for cell-free systems in recent years. These efforts have led to programmed circuits, spatially organized pathways, co-activated catalytic ensembles, rational optimization of synthetic multi-enzyme pathways, and linear scalability from the micro-liter to the 100-liter scale. It is now clear that cell-free systems offer a versatile test-bed for understanding why nature's designs work the way they do and also for enabling biosynthetic routes to novel chemicals, sustainable fuels, and new classes of tunable materials. While challenges remain, the emergence of cell-free systems is poised to open the way to novel products that until now have been impractical, if not impossible, to produce by other means.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Keywords

  • Biocatalysis
  • Cell-free biology
  • In vitro protein synthesis
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Synthetic biology
  • Synthetic enzymatic pathways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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