AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Are Artificial Chromosomes the Key to Future Medicine?

Our DNA is packaged intricately by proteins in order to make up chromatin. If DNA were like a thread, these proteins are the spools that the DNA thread winds around to keep itself neat, organized, and compact inside of a microscopic cell. If a foreign, naked DNA thread with no spool is introduced into the environment, the cell is armed and ready to supply this new thread with its own self-made spools, allowing this naked DNA thread to be stably maintained in the cellular environment as part of the cell’s new collection. This process is known as artificial chromosome formation.

Prospects for the Use of Artificial Chromosomes include the potential to overcome problems in gene therapy protocols such as immunogenicity, insertional mutagenesis, oncogene activation, or limitations in capacity for transgene expression. One case where artificial chromosomes can be useful is found with someone dealing with Cystic Fibrosis. This fatal chronic lung disease is caused by a mutation in the CFTR gene and is currently a disease without a known cure. Scientists have been studying the use of bacterial and yeast artificial chromosomes as a transmitter to implement the normal functioning CFTR gene and overcome the defective CFTR gene in patient cells.

Almost two trillion cells divide every day in an average human body. This means that two trillion cells have to make a perfect copy of themselves every time. In our class, we’ve gone over the importance of cell division and have discussed the Mitochondria and Chloroplast’s ability to replicate independently within cells. The cost of cell division that comes short of flawlessness is undoubtedly humankind’s worst enemy yet: cancer, in which many are characterized by chromosome instability. One important player in ensuring the inheritance of our chromosomes during cell division is the centromere. The current studies of artificial chromosomes provide novel insights into the chromosomal processes required for de novo centromere formation and chromosome maintenance.

Ultimately, the results of these studies could help advance the synthetic biology field by exploring how some characteristics can be designed to optimize the establishment of an artificial chromosome by improving the efficiency of de novo centromere formation through accurate segregation to improve the applications of artificial chromosomes as large-capacity transmitters for cloning and gene therapies.


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1 Comment

  1. clalvincycle

    Great post. It’s interesting to see the many ways scientists are trying to mimic aspects of cells and their functions. Another way in which scientists are doing this is with the creation of a self dividing cell. They accomplished this by identifying which genes were essential to a cell’s ability to self replicate properly. Check out the full article here:

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