In terrestrial life, DNA is copied to messenger RNA, and the 64 triplet codons in messenger RNAs are decoded-in the process of translation-to synthesize proteins. Cellular protein translation provides the ultimate paradigm for the synthesis of long polymers of defined sequence and composition, but is commonly limited to polymerizing the 20 canonical amino acids. I will describe our progress on expanding the chemical scope of cellular translation to encode non-canonical amino acids into proteins, and our progress towards the encoded synthesis of non-canonical biopolymers. These advances i) underpin diverse approaches to address previously intractable problems in biological discovery, and ii) provide a foundation for the synthesis and evolution of diverse, sequence-defined polymers. Progress on encoded non-canonical biopolymer synthesis may underpin our ability to create a circular bioeconomy. To realize our goals we are re-imagining some of the most conserved features of the cell: we have created new ribosomes, new aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNA pairs, and organisms with entirely synthetic genomes in which we have re-written the genetic code.
Jason Chin is currently a Programme Leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB), where he is also Head of the Centre for Chemical & Synthetic Biology (CCSB). He is a professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at the University of Cambridge, and holds a joint appointment at the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry. He is also a fellow in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is the inaugural recipient (2011) of the Louis-Jeantet Young Investigator Career Award, selected from amongst winners of ERC grants. He was inducted into the European Inventors Hall of Fame in 2013 and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2016. Their lab has pioneered the development and application of methods for reprogramming the genetic code of living organisms. These approaches allow the site specific incorporation of designer unnatural amino acids, beyond the canonical 20, into proteins in diverse cells and organisms.
For details of his research and recent publication, please visit HERE
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