RoboMoClo: A Robotics-Assisted Modular Cloning Framework for Multiple Gene Assembly in Biofoundry

Dong Hun Kang, Sung Cheon Ko, Yu Been Heo, Hyun Jeong Lee, Han Min Woo


Efficient and versatile DNA assembly frameworks have had an impact on promoting synthetic biology to build complex biological systems. To accelerate system development, laboratory automation (or biofoundry) provides an opportunity to construct organisms and DNA assemblies via computer-aided design. However, a modular cloning (MoClo) system for multiple DNA assemblies limits the biofoundry workflow in terms of simplicity and feasibility by preparing the number of cloning materials such as destination vectors prior to the automation process. Herein, we propose robot-assisted MoClo (RoboMoClo) to accelerate a synthetic biology project with multiple gene expressions at the biofoundry. The architecture of the RoboMoClo framework provides a hybrid strategy of hierarchical gene assembly and iterative gene assembly, and fewer destination vectors compared with other MoClo systems. An industrial bacterium, Corynebacterium glutamicum, was used as a model host for RoboMoClo. After building a biopart library (promoter and terminator; level 0) and evaluating its features (level 1), various transcriptional directions in multiple gene assemblies (level 2) were studied using the RoboMoClo vectors. Among the constructs, the convergent construct exhibited potential transcriptional interference through the collision of RNA polymerases. To study design of experiment-guided lycopene biosynthesis in C. glutamicum (levels 1, 2, and 3), the biofoundry-assisted multiple gene assembly was demonstrated as a proof-of-concept by constructing various sub-pathway units (level 2) and pathway units (level 3) for C. glutamicum. The RoboMoClo framework provides an improved MoClo toolkit for laboratory automation in a synthetic biology application. Read the full Publication.