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Reagents to Create Large DNA Constructs in One Assembly Step

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41GM119494-01
Agency Tracking Number: R41GM119494
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 100
Solicitation Number: PA15-270
Solicitation Year: 2016
Award Year: 2016
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2016-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2017-06-30
Small Business Information
Alachua, FL 32615-9544
United States
DUNS: 192849011
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (352) 219-3570
Business Contact
Phone: (386) 418-0347
Research Institution

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant To many notably Craig Venter andquot synthetic biologyandquot means simply andquot synthesizing large amounts of DNAandquot This type of synthetic biology actually began in the andapos s when Caruthers introduced a phosphoramidite based solid phase DNA synthesis architecture This allowed ICI and the Benner group to synthesize complete genes encoding biomedically useful proteins and enzymes for the first time The second example showed how biotechnological goals could better be met if the synthetic sequences were different from the sequences presented by Nature through codon optimization and watermarking inter alia Subsequent developments now allow semi routine synthesis of genes these are used in biotechnology gene therapy RNA therapy and elsewhere Extrapolation suggests that routine synthesis of whole genomes will soon be possible hopefully for less than the ca $ million spent to synthesize one in the Venter laboratory Unfortunately DNA has a rich biophysical chemistry that defeats any architecture that relies on autonomous assembly to make large DNA L DNA constructs by simply mixing synthetic fragments even within recombinogenic organisms However two innovations from the FfAME provide a new approach to creating L DNA constructs The first is an andquot artificially expanded genetic information systemandquot AEGIS AEGIS is a DNA like molecule that adds eight additional nucleobases that form four additional pairs the Z P S B K X V J pairs to the four natural nucleotides which form G C and A T pairs By increasing information density of DNA and avoiding non canonical interactions AEGIS allows autonomous self assembly of dozens of fragments to generate L DNA The second innovation is andquot transliterationandquot technology Transliteration allows rule based replacement of AEGIS nucleotides by standard nucleotides after a L DNA assembly is complete By converting S B Z and P to T A C and G respectively the AEGIS components can be replaced after they have served their role to guide autonomous self assembly converting GACTSBZP L DNA to entirely standard GACTTACG DNA To persuade commercial partners to engage with this technology FfAME scientists demonstrated this strategy using the simpler GACTSB six nucleotide AEGIS DNA to give in one assembly step an active full length and sequence correct gene encoding kanamycin resistance Parallel attempts with standard base DNA failed Phase project will transfer these innovations to Firebird which will deliver L DNA and whole plasmids by custom synthesis using an eight letter GACTSBZP alphabet This will require a adapting OligArch software to support design with this strategy b creating a pipeline to synthesize DNA nucleotide fragments using this alphabet and c providing demonstration products plasmids coding multiple enzymes for complete metabolic pathways to natural products assembled in a single step In Phase this technology will be merged with Firebirdandapos s E coli SEGUE strain Second Example of Genetics Undergoing Evolution that manages expanded DNA alphabets in cloning vehicles with one week andquot order to cloneandquot times for plasmids and viruses

PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Whole gene synthesis today has a major commercial market in biomedical research and clinical practice with for example genes that include an RNA polymerase promoter being used to generate whole messenger RNA transcripts to be used in RNA based gene therapy The expensive part of whole gene construction is not the synthesis of the primary DNA oligonucleotide gene fragments which have now become quite inexpensive Rather the cost is the assembly of those fragments to give the full gene a process that requires considerable human involvement and risk of failure Recently scientists at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution reported a technology that allows autonomous self assembly of dozens of the gene fragments largely without human attention Merritt et al Once transferred to Firebird this technology will support large DNA construction with applications ranging from biomanufacturing to diagnostics to therapy

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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