Synthetic Biology of Active Compounds

  • Yifeng Zhang
  • Meirong Jia
  • Wei GaoEmail author


Synthetic biology is a rising discipline that combines biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, and physics. In the early twentieth century, French physical chemist Stephane Leduc [1] put forward the idea that life can be simplified into a chemical reaction in his book The Mechanism of Life; however, because people’s understanding has stayed at the early biological research stage, the level of understanding of molecular biology is insufficient, and synthetic biology has not been developed. Until 1962, Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod [2] proposed an operon model for E. coli gene expression, which was favoured by researchers for its precise regulation. With the rapid development of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s and high-throughput sequencing in the 1980s, the construction of artificial biological systems has gradually changed from idea to reality, and people’s understanding of synthetic biology has gradually deepened. In 1980, German scientist Barbara H-bomb [3] defined synthetic biology as a gene for bacteria using recombinant DNA technology in his long-form paper “Gene Surgery: On the Threshold of Synthetic Biology”. In January 2000, Nature published two studies on the construction of the first artificial bistable gene regulatory network and synthetic gene oscillator in E. coli [4, 5]. So far, synthetic biology remains a new field. In the same year, Eric Kool and other spokespersons reintroduced the concept of synthetic biology at the American Chemical Society, defining synthetic biology as genetic engineering based on systems biology, from artificial base DNA molecules, gene fragments, gene regulatory networks with signal transduction pathways, to artificial design and synthesis in cells. There are many different opinions on the definition of synthetic biology; nowadays, scholars generally recognize that the use of engineering concepts rationally synthesizes complex, biologically meaningful systems of different levels, from individual biomolecules, to whole cells, tissues, and organs. Importantly, these biological systems can perform functions not found in nature.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.and Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Traditional Chinese MedicineCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of California, DavisCaliforniaUSA
  3. 3.School of Pharmaceutical SciencesCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina

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