Cell-free protein synthesis: The state of the art

James W. Whittaker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Cell-free protein synthesis harnesses the synthetic power of biology, programming the ribosomal translational machinery of the cell to create macromolecular products. Like PCR, which uses cellular replication machinery to create a DNA amplifier, cell-free protein synthesis is emerging as a transformative technology with broad applications in protein engineering, biopharmaceutical development, and post-genomic research. By breaking free from the constraints of cell-based systems, it takes the next step towards synthetic biology. Recent advances in reconstituted cell-free protein synthesis (Protein synthesis Using Recombinant Elements expression systems) are creating new opportunities to tailor the reactions for specialized applications including in vitro protein evolution, printing protein microarrays, isotopic labeling, and incorporating nonnatural amino acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell-free translation
  • PURE expression
  • Protein engineering
  • Protein synthesis
  • Synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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