In 1984, mycoplasms were proposed to understand the basic principles of life since they are simple and capable of autonomous growth. Specifically Mycoplasma genitalium was focused since it has a mere 525 genes, but upon further study only 250 were essential. Thus, this provoked the idea that it should be possible to create a minimal cell with less genes than the natural cell. Though the cells can survive with a minimal amount of genes, some genes have some importance that promote growth. It becomes a trade off of being a smaller cell to also have a decreased growth rate. The scientists were able to produce JCVI-syn3.0 with only 473 genes and it still has the abilities to synthesize all of its necessary macromolecules. The scientists were also surprised to find that 149 of the genes had unknown biological functions which presents the question: is there any other functions that are undiscovered and necessary for life?
I find it interesting how cells are able to function with such a minimal amount of genes to begin with because there are so many functions it needs to accomplish to survive. Based off this research it is entirely possible for this research to be applied to humans, which could yield for interesting results because this could lead to malicious genes to be removed from the genome as well as unnecessary ones. Further study of JCVI-syn3.0 will also be interesting since scientists may discover new functions of genes and how they are essential to life.
Figure 1. (A) The cycle of genome design (B) Comparison of base pairs between JCVI-syn1.0 (blue) and JCVI-syn3.0 (red) (C) Cluster of JCVI-syn3.0 cells