|September 2018 Research Update
Is DNA Synthesis Going Enzymatic?
Earlier this summer, researchers from Jay Keasling's lab at the Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published a novel method to synthesize oligonucleotides in Nature Methods. Specifically, they revealed an enzymatic approach to oligonucleotide synthesis that offers several key advantages over traditional oligonucleotide synthesis, including increased specificity, increased oligonucleotide length, and a more environmentally friendly process.
Throughout the years, oligonucleotide synthesis has gone through several methods and iterations, beginning with the H-phosphonate method developed by Alexander Todd's group in the 1950s, and continuing with the nucleoside phosphoramidite method developed by M. Caruthers' group in the 1970s, which is still predominantly used today (see Hogrefe et al. 2013 for a review of the history and challenges of oligonucleotide synthesis).
"However, after decades of fine-tuning and improvements in liquid handling, the upper limit of phosphoramidite-based oligo synthesis is now about 200-300 nt, in practice. As a result, longer molecules must be assembled from oligos in a process that is failure-prone and not amenable to all target sequences, rendering some DNA sequences inaccessible to study," noted the authors...