The translation system is the cell's factory for protein biosynthesis, stitching together hundreds to thousands of amino acids into proteins, which are required for the structure, function, and regulation of living systems. The extraordinary synthetic capability of this system, which includes the ribosome and its associated factors required for polymerization, has driven extensive efforts to harness it for societal use in areas as diverse as energy, materials, and medicine. A powerful example is recombinant protein production, which has impacted the lives of patients through the synthesis of biopharmaceuticals such as insulin. In nature, however, only limited sets of monomers are utilized, thereby resulting in limited sets of biopolymers (i.e., proteins). Expanding nature's repertoire of ribosomal monomers could yield new classes of enzymes, therapeutics, materials, and chemicals with diverse, genetically encoded chemistry. Here, we discuss recent progress towards engineering ribosomes both in vivo and in vitro. These fundamental and technical breakthroughs open doors for advanced applications in biotechnology and synthetic biology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry