Breaking kingdom: making synthetic organelles in bacteria with RNAs.
Researchers created a genetic code to build functional organelles, a feature of eukaryotes, now in bacteria. New findings shed light on the most foundational questions of biology and suggested the huge potential of synthetic biology.
Shenzhen, September 29, 2022 -- Ailurus Biotechnology Co., Ltd., the biocomputer company, announced that the first synthetic organelle in bacteria, "TEARS", was published in the journal Cell , and that Ailurus provided a development kit TEAR-2 to its customers for engineering phase separations.
Organelles are specialized subunits that perform various work in cells. It's been taught in textbooks for decades that organelle is a featured structure of eukaryotic kingdoms and doesn't exist in bacteria. Yet a research group built synthetic organelles in bacteria, and overturned this orthodox, co-led by Haotian Guo, cofounder and CEO of Ailurus.
Dr. Guo conceived a design to build synthetic organelles in Escherichia coli by engineering RNAs that can phase separate without extra aids. Phase separation is a process similar to water-oil demixing, commonly observed to form membraneless organelles, namely biocondensates, in eukaryotes. In 2017 iGEM competition, Dr. Guo instructed team Paris Bettencourt presented its prototype "RNA organelle". Dr. Guo recalled, "It was a bold move, as no evidence showed that phase separation was even physically possible in bacteria at the time." This work remarks the first public record of biocondensate in bacteria, even earlier than the discovery of natural ones by Al-Husini et al 2018. Then, Dr. Guo and Professor Ariel B. Lindner from French national biomedical research institute (INSERM) at Université de Paris Cité led a group to further develop it into a comprehensive study, "TEARS". Until now, TEARS has been the only synthetic complexes whose structures and functionalities are reminiscent of its eukaryotic counterparts.
Synthetic organelles in bacteria may provide a clean background to uncover fundamental biology of organelles and to enable discovery of new drugs targeting condensates. They also have advantages in engineering metabolic pathways, to improve yield and purity of desired products. At Ailurus, the biocomputer company, we consider synthetic organelle as an important living "hardware". Therefore, Ailurus established a development kit "TEAR-2", to generate and program synthetic organelles in E. coli that are similar to TEARS. Now, TEAR-2 is released as a beta version, and available for all customers of Ailurus.
 Haotian Guo*, Joseph C. Ryan, Adeline Mallet, Xiaohu Song, Victor Pabst, Antoine Decrulle, and Ariel B. Lindner*. "Spatial engineering of E. coli with addressable phase-separated RNAs." Cell (2022). doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2022.09.016 (*Correspondences)
Ailurus is building the architecture and programming language to engineer biology as we program a classical computer. The company's platform enables customers from individual bio-developers, academic users in life science research to hospital doctors, environment engineers, chemists, and more people who want to apply biology in their sectors.