PR-PR: Cross-platform standard language for automation of Synthetic Biology research

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Gregory Linshiz, Nina Stawski, Changhao Bi, Sean Poust, Nathan J. Hillson and Jay D. Keasling

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), United States

The development of biology-friendly standard cross-platform programming tools is a crucial step towards automation of research laboratories. The current lack of such tools is a major obstacle for modernization of the Life Science. We have developed high-level biology-friendly programming language PR-PR (Programming Robot) that is used for management of liquid-handling robotic and microfluidic automated platforms. This language allows researchers efficient implementation of protocols for automated DNA synthesis and other complex Synthetic Biology processes, permitting plethora of new high-throughput complex experiments. PR-PR has established the same set of basic commands for any automation platform. Most of the advanced features of the language are also available for all the compatible platforms, while the underlying optimization and translation processes are unique for each platform. We have created PR-PR as an open source project to boost the adoption of the language as a standard and to encourage the scientific community to add translators for various automated platforms. Performing laboratory operations on small scales and increasing experiments throughput by using miniaturized microfluidic Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) devices is the next step forward in the laboratory automation. We are working on development of a new integrated multipurpose microfluidics platform, operated by PR-PR. We can perform a broad spectrum of Synthetic Biology applications on our microfluidics platform using the same PR-PR scripts that can be run on the robotic platforms.