Delft University of Technology scientists have created baker’s yeast with human muscle genes.
Human muscle genes were successfully inserted into the DNA of baker’s yeast by biotechnologist Pascale Daran-Lapujade and her team at Delft University of Technology. For the first time, scientists have effectively inserted a crucial human characteristic into a yeast cell. Their research was recently published in the journal Cell Reports.
Daran-Lapujade’s lab introduced a characteristic to yeast cells that is regulated by a collection of 10 genes that humans cannot live without; they carry the blueprint for a process known as a metabolic pathway, which breaks down sugar to gather energy and produce cellular building blocks within muscle cells. Because this mechanism is involved in many disorders, including cancer, the modified yeast could be used in medical studies.
“Now that we understand the full process, medical scientists can use this humanized yeast model as a tool for drug screening and cancer research,” Daran-Lapujade says.
Humans and yeast are similar
According to Daran-Lapujade, there are a lot of similarities between yeast and a human being: “It seems weird since yeast lives as single cells and humans consist of a substantially more complex system, but the cells operate in a very similar way.”
As a result, scientists often transfer human genes into yeast. Because yeast removes all other interactions that may exist in the human body, it creates a clean environment in which researchers can analyze a single process.
“As compared to human cells or tissues, yeast is a fantastic organism for its simplicity to grow and its genetic accessibility: its DNA can be easily modified to address fundamental questions,” Daran-Lapujade explains. “Many pivotal discoveries such as the cell division cycle, were elucidated thanks to yeast.”