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Cell-Free Synthetic Biology Platform for Engineering Synthetic Biological Circuits and Systems


Synthetic biology brings engineering disciplines to create novel biological systems for biomedical and technological applications. The substantial growth of the synthetic biology field in the past decade is poised to transform biotechnology and medicine. To streamline design processes and facilitate debugging of complex synthetic circuits, cell-free synthetic biology approaches has reached broad research communities both in academia and industry. By recapitulating gene expression systems in vitro, cell-free expression systems offer flexibility to explore beyond the confines of living cells and allow networking of synthetic and natural systems. Here, we review the capabilities of the current cell-free platforms, focusing on nucleic acid-based molecular programs and circuit construction. We survey the recent developments including cell-free transcription-translation platforms, DNA nanostructures and circuits, and novel classes of riboregulators. The links to mathematical models and the prospects of cell-free synthetic biology platforms will also be discussed.

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