Today at Berkeley Lab

Highly parallelized synthesis of microbial genes using oligonucleotides arrays

Deep sequencing of environmental samples is revealing an increasingly large number of novel proteins, many of which have potential applications in “Green Biotechnologies”, such as biocatalysts for biomass degradation, biofuel synthesis, bioremediation and carbon capture.

However, converting “Digital” sequence information into proteins that can be characterized biochemically has been challenging, since template DNA is almost always unavailable.

Synthetic Biology, allows genes to be re-constructed in a template independent manner, essentially converting digital information into a biological information, that can be readily used for downstream applications.

The goal of this project is to develop a high-throughput, low cost method for gene synthesis, using of oligonucleotide microarrays, which will allow the functional screening of large numbers of novel genes for activities of interest.

Our initial test case is focused on synthesizing and testing 200 predicted GH1 cellulases which participate in the last step of degradation of biomass, an important step for the development of cellulosic biofuels.