1.1/ What is synthetic biology and the Central Dogma of Biology ? MOOC iGEM hs
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1.1/ What is synthetic biology and the Central Dogma of Biology ? MOOC iGEM hs


iGEM is a competition for conducting research
on topics in synthetic biology, but what exactly is synthetic biology? Synthetic biology is
a scientific discipline where multi-gene DNA sequences are added to well characterized
organisms in order to understand biological behavior or to achieve a pre-determined function.
Usually this is done by changing things inside a bacterial or eukaryotic cell, known as a
biological chassis. Synthetic biology has many applications in therapeutics, biosensors,
bioenergy, bioremediation, chemicals, and so on. To understand synthetic biology, let’s
start by talking about the central dogma of molecular biology, which governs the way that
genetic information in processed in all living cells. In the central dogma, deoxyribonucleic
acid, or DNA, is converted to ribonucleic acid, or RNA, by a process called transcription
and then that RNA is converted to proteins by a process called translation. DNA and RNA are both nucleic acids. Think
of DNA like your hard drive and RNA as a memory stick. Genes in your DNA are like files on
your computer’s hard drive which need to be copied on a memory stick, that is RNA,
in order to be transported somewhere else. During transcription, which is the first step
of gene expression, DNA is copied into RNA by an enzyme called RNA polymerase. In the second step of the central dogma, a
messenger RNA is decoded by cellular ribosomes to produce a polypeptide, which is a specific
chain of amino acids, which later fold to become an active protein. Ribosomes help decode
an mRNA sequence by inducing the binding of specific molecules known as tRNAs with complementary
anticodon sequences to that of the mRNA. A codon is a three nucleotide long sequence
of DNA or RNA that encodes for a specific amino acid or for the stop or start of a polypeptide
sequence. Of course, this is a very simplistic overview
of what the central dogma entails. In reality, there are many other molecules involved in
the creation of functional proteins from DNA. With an understanding of basic molecular biology,
you can start designing systems for making new proteins that have the functions that
you are looking for. This is the start of synthetic biology.

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