Cell-free translation systems have developed significantly over the last two decades and improvements in yield have resulted in their use for protein production in the laboratory. These systems have protein engineering applications, such as the production of proteins containing unnatural amino acids and development of proteins exhibiting novel functions. Recently, it has been suggested that cell-free translation systems might be used as the fundamental basis for cell-like systems. We review recent progress in the field of cell-free translation systems and describe their use as tools for protein production and engineering.
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