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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 459760, 10 pages
Review Article

Toward Engineering Synthetic Microbial Metabolism

Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, 601 W. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23284-3028, USA

Received 15 August 2009; Accepted 9 October 2009

Academic Editor: Hal Alper

Copyright © 2010 George H. McArthur IV and Stephen S. Fong. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The generation of well-characterized parts and the formulation of biological design principles in synthetic biology are laying the foundation for more complex and advanced microbial metabolic engineering. Improvements in de novo DNA synthesis and codon-optimization alone are already contributing to the manufacturing of pathway enzymes with improved or novel function. Further development of analytical and computer-aided design tools should accelerate the forward engineering of precisely regulated synthetic pathways by providing a standard framework for the predictable design of biological systems from well-characterized parts. In this review we discuss the current state of synthetic biology within a four-stage framework (design, modeling, synthesis, analysis) and highlight areas requiring further advancement to facilitate true engineering of synthetic microbial metabolism.