Repurposing the translation apparatus for synthetic biology

Benjamin J. Des Soye, Jaymin R. Patel, Farren J. Isaacs*, Michael C. Jewett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The translation system (the ribosome and associated factors) is the cell's factory for protein synthesis. The extraordinary catalytic capacity of the protein synthesis machinery has driven extensive efforts to harness it for novel functions. For example, pioneering efforts have demonstrated that it is possible to genetically encode more than the 20 natural amino acids and that this encoding can be a powerful tool to expand the chemical diversity of proteins. Here, we discuss recent advances in efforts to expand the chemistry of living systems, highlighting improvements to the molecular machinery and genomically recoded organisms, applications of cell-free systems, and extensions of these efforts to include eukaryotic systems. The transformative potential of repurposing the translation apparatus has emerged as one of the defining opportunities at the interface of chemical and synthetic biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Chemical Biology
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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