Design, construction, and functional characterization of a tRNA neochromosome in yeast

Cell. 2023 Nov 22;186(24):5237-5253.e22. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2023.10.015. Epub 2023 Nov 8.


Here, we report the design, construction, and characterization of a tRNA neochromosome, a designer chromosome that functions as an additional, de novo counterpart to the native complement of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Intending to address one of the central design principles of the Sc2.0 project, the ∼190-kb tRNA neochromosome houses all 275 relocated nuclear tRNA genes. To maximize stability, the design incorporates orthogonal genetic elements from non-S. cerevisiae yeast species. Furthermore, the presence of 283 rox recombination sites enables an orthogonal tRNA SCRaMbLE system. Following construction in yeast, we obtained evidence of a potent selective force, manifesting as a spontaneous doubling in cell ploidy. Furthermore, tRNA sequencing, transcriptomics, proteomics, nucleosome mapping, replication profiling, FISH, and Hi-C were undertaken to investigate questions of tRNA neochromosome behavior and function. Its construction demonstrates the remarkable tractability of the yeast model and opens up opportunities to directly test hypotheses surrounding these essential non-coding RNAs.

Keywords: Sc2.0; Yeast 2.0; cellular burden; genome reorganization; neochromosome; ploidy changes; rational chromosome design; synthetic biology; synthetic genomics; tRNA.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Yeast* / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome, Fungal*
  • Proteomics
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae* / genetics
  • Synthetic Biology


  • RNA, Transfer