Scientists Might Have Made A “Yeasty” New Home For Human Genes

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Biotechnologist Pascale Daran-Lapujade and her colleagues at Delft University of Technology successfully introduced human muscle genes into the DNA of baker’s yeast. Scientists have successfully transferred a vital human trait into a yeast cell. The results of their study were just authored in the journal Cell Reports.

Using a set of 10 genes essential to human survival, Daran-scientists Lapujade’s engineered yeast cells to perform a process called a metabolic pathway, which involves the breakdown of sugar to gather energy and make biological building blocks inside muscle cells. The modified yeast may find use in medical research since this mechanism is implicated in a wide range of diseases.
Daran-Lapujade claims that humans share many traits with yeast.

Consequently, scientists often introduce human genes into yeast. Yeast allows researchers to examine a particular process in isolation since it eliminates all other connections that may present in the human body. The Lapujade lab at Daran has previously designed artificial chromosomes that can be used to insert new DNA-based functionality into yeast. In order to see whether the cells would still function normally, scientists decided to add a number of human genes and whole metabolic pathways to them and see what happens.

The team collaborated with Professor Barbara Bakker’s group at the University Medical Centre Groningen to examine the differences between how human genes are expressed in yeast and how they are expressed in human muscle cells generated in the lab. The novel humanized yeast are promising models for human cells, since the features of human enzymes generated in yeast were very comparable to those produced in their original human cells.

Humanized yeasts might be used to study not just this but many other processes that are comparable among yeast and human cells. Daran-Lapujade aims to work with other researchers who are interested in utilizing the tool, since she plans to stick to the theoretical and scientific parts of engineering yeast and has no intention of studying the applications of the humanized yeast herself.