BaSyC consists of 7 interacting work packages (WPs):
WP0 – System Design In this WP, theoretical and computational models are developed on all levels of complexity. The aim is to converge on a feasible overall design of the system with continuous feedback from the experiments.
WP1 – Cell Fuelling The aim of this WP is to engineer a minimal metabolism in a sealed system that can supply the vesicle with energy, and building blocks to operate replication, transcription and translation, that can accomplish energy, redox, volume, and pH homeostasis, and that can synthesize lipids allowing the synthetic cell to grow and divide.
WP2 – DNA Processing In this WP, an information processing machinery will be built that can replicate its own genetic information, that can transcribe the DNA in order to generate the flow of mRNA for protein production, and that can synthesize/assemble ribosomes, which in turn produce the proteins allowing the synthetic cell to grow and divide
WP3 – Cell Division In this WP, we will engineer a force generating machinery for constriction and fission of a vesicle, which will be responsible for the division of the BaSyC cell.
WP4 – Spatio-Temporal Integration WP4 will be devoted to integrating the base modules from WP1-3. In addition, strategies and machineries will be devised for the spatio-temporal control of the three base modules.
WP5 – Towards Autonomy In this WP, we will synthesize a whole genome supporting the functional modules as explored in WP1-4. We will apply an iterative cycle of genome design, assembly and testing.
WP6 – Philosophy, Ethics, and Public Debate Throughout the project, we will reflect on philosophical aspects, ethical dilemmas as well as societal opportunities associated with creating synthetic life, raise awareness with our researchers on these topics, and actively engage in public debate.
Each Work package is subdivided in a number of projects, as shown in this table.
|WP0.1||Identification of global variables and constraints|
|WP0.2||Development of models for subsystems|
|WP0.3||Integrating models ultimately leading to an in silico synthetic cell|
|WP1.1||A system for ATP and redox homeostasis|
|WP1.2||Modules to provide the cell with essential nutrients|
|WP1.3||Synthesizing a functional, expanding membrane|
|WP4.1||Integrating different modules|
|WP5.1||Genome design & assembly|
|WP5.2||In vitro analysis of operon functionality|
|WP5.3||A cellular chassis for module optimization|
|WP5.4||Towards an autonomous synthetic cell|
|WP6||Philosophy, Ethics, and Public Debate|
|WP6.2||Bridging the science – humanities divide|
|WP6.3||Proactively exploring societal potentials and concerns|
In order to address the challenge of building the first synthetic cell from the bottom up, the BaSyC consortium will bring 17 principal investigators (PI’s) together in a truly interdisciplinary pool of cutting-edge expertise for the first time.
The researchers have complementary expertise, covering all aspects involved in this research, from biochemistry and biophysics to (genome) engineering and genetics, microbiology and theory and ethics and philosophical aspects. They share a common vision that the ability to create a synthetic cell from its basic constituents will result in a deep molecular understanding of life. They are renowned for their multidisciplinary research, bridging disciplines and bringing different fields together, and are highly committed to a long-term collaboration within the BaSyC programme and beyond.