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YeastFab offers useful tools for industrial biotech

Dr Patrick Cai, SynthSys Principal Investigator and co-director of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry, along with collaborators from Tsinghua University have published their first paper on construction of YeastFab – a library of well characterized yeast genetic parts that will serve to expedite metabolic engineering of this industrial workhorse.

It is a routine task in metabolic engineering to introduce multicomponent pathways into a heterologous host for production of metabolites. However, this process sometimes may take weeks to months due to the lack of standardized genetic tools. Dr Cai’s team now reveal a method for the design and construction of biological parts based on the native genes and regulatory elements in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. They developed highly efficient protocols (termed YeastFab Assembly) to synthesize these genetic elements as standardized biological parts, which can then be used to assemble entire metabolic pathways in simple steps. The team also systematically characterized these genetic parts under various stress conditions, which sheds light on the rational design of eukaryotic systems in the future.

The team proved that their strategy worked by reconstruct the metabolic pathway that produces carotene (Vitamin A) in matter of days (rather than weeks using more traditional methods), and even optimized the production through combinatorial assembly of a pathway using hundreds of regulatory biological parts.

The work is published online in Nucleic Acids Research Advance Access (May 8, 2015)