Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) announced today a major breakthrough in engineering systems of RNA molecules through computer-assisted design, which could lead to important improvements across a range of industries, including the development of cheaper advanced biofuels.
Scientists will use these new "RNA machines", to adjust genetic expression in the cells of microorganisms. This will enable scientists to develop new strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that are better able to digest switchgrass biomass and convert released sugars to form three types of transportation fuels – gasoline, diesel and jet fuels.
"This is a perfect example of how our investments in basic science innovations can pave the way for future industries and solutions to our nation's most important challenges," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This breakthrough at the Joint BioEnergy Institute holds enormous potential for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels and countless other valuable goods."
A breakthrough with E. coli could make it cheaper to produce fuel from switchgrass or other non-food biomass plants to create advanced biofuels with the potential to replace gasoline. While the work at JBEI remains focused on the development of advanced biofuels, JBEI's researchers believe that their concepts may help other researchers to develop many other desired products, including biodegradable plastics and therapeutic drugs. For example, some researchers have already started a project to investigate how to use the "RNA machines" to increase the safety and efficacy of medicine therapies to treat diseases, including diabetes and Parkinson's.
Biological systems are incredibly complex, which makes it difficult to engineer systems of microorganisms that will produce desired products in predictable amounts. JBEI's work, which will be featured in the December 23rd issue of Science magazine, is the first of its kind to set up and adjust a RNA system in a predictable way.
Specifically, researchers focused their design-driven approach on RNA sequences that can fold into complicated three dimensional shapes, called ribozymes and aptazymes. By using JBEI-developed computer-assisted models and simulations, researchers then created complex RNA-based control systems that are able to program a large number of genes. In microorganisms, "commands" that are sent into the cell will be processed by the RNA-based control systems, enabling them to help develop desired products.
One of the major goals of synthetic biology is to produce valuable chemical products from simple, inexpensive and renewable starting materials in a sustainable manner. Computer-assisted models and simulations like the one JBEI developed are essential for doing so. Up to this point, such tools for biology have been very limited and JBEI's breakthrough in applying computer assisted design marks an important technical and conceptual achievement for this field.
To view additional details about this research, visit http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/12/22/cad-for-rna/.
JBEI, led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is one of three Bioenergy Research Centers established by the DOE's Office of Science in 2007. For more information, visit www.jbei.org
Jeff Sherwood | EurekAlert!
System draws power from daily temperature swings
16.02.2018 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Researchers at Kiel University develop extremely sensitive sensor system for magnetic fields
15.02.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy