Cell-free TXTL synthesis of infectious bacteriophage T4 in a single test tube reaction

Mark Rustad, Allen Eastlund, Paul Jardine, Vincent Noireaux

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76 Scopus citations


The bottom-up construction of biological entities from genetic information provides a broad range of opportunities to better understand fundamental processes within living cells, as well as holding great promise for the development of novel biomedical applications. Cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) systems have become suitable platforms to tackle such topics because they recapitulate the process of gene expression. TXTL systems have advanced to where the in vitro construction of viable, complex, self-assembling deoxyribonucleic acid-programmed biological entities is now possible. Previously, we demonstrated the cell-free synthesis of three bacteriophages from their genomes: MS2, φX174, T7. In this work, we present the complete synthesis of the phage T4 from its 169-kbp genome in one-pot TXTL reactions. This achievement, for one of the largest coliphages, demonstrates the integration of complex gene regulation, metabolism and self-assembly, and brings the bottom-up synthesis of biological systems to a new level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberysy002
JournalSynthetic Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 6 2018


  • bacteriophages
  • cell-free synthetic biology
  • cell-free transcription/translation
  • self-assembly


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