Update on designing and building minimal cells

Michael C. Jewett*, Anthony C. Forster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

85 Scopus citations


Minimal cells comprise only the genes and biomolecular machinery necessary for basic life. Synthesizing minimal and minimized cells will improve understanding of core biology, enhance development of biotechnology strains of bacteria, and enable evolutionary optimization of natural and unnatural biopolymers. Design and construction of minimal cells is proceeding in two different directions: 'top-down' reduction of bacterial genomes in vivo and 'bottom-up' integration of DNA/RNA/protein/membrane syntheses in vitro. Major progress in the past 5 years has occurred in synthetic genomics, minimization of the Escherichia coli genome, sequencing of minimal bacterial endosymbionts, identification of essential genes, and integration of biochemical systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-703
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering

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