Word is, in the “mystery function” fraction of the minimal cell Syn 3.0 genome—149 genes of the 473 essential set do not have any known associated functions, but they are demonstrably needed for Syn 3.0’s viability. That’s nearly a third of the essential hardware.
Because the functions of the genes are unknown, the researchers didn’t know they were needed until they were gone. That shows how far geneticists still have to go in understanding how life works.
“We know about two-thirds of essential biology. We’re missing a third,” Venter said.
Project leader Clyde Hutchison, a researcher at the J. Craig Venter Institute, said some of the genes appear to play a role in transporting small molecules around the cell. But the details still have to be worked out, and that’s a priority for future research, he said. More.
See also: Craig Venter’s minimal cell is a parasite
What we know and don’t, know about the origin of life
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