Archive for December 2nd, 2017

A form of life that can stably store genetic information using a six-letter, three-base-pair alphabet?

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
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For around 16 years, Floyd Romesberg’s group has been exploring un-natural alternatives (UBPs) to the Watson-Crick base pairs (C-G and A-T) that form part of the genetic code in DNA. Recently they have had remarkable success with one such base pair, called X and Y (for the press) and dNaMTP and d5SICSTP (in scholarly articles).[1],[2] This extends the genetic coding from the standard 20 amino acids to the possibility of up to 172 amino acids. Already, organisms engineered to contain X-Y pairs in their DNA have been shown to express entirely new (and un-natural) proteins.

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References

  1. A.W. Feldman, M.P. Ledbetter, Y. Zhang, and F.E. Romesberg, "Reply to Hettinger: Hydrophobic unnatural base pairs and the expansion of the genetic alphabet", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, pp. E6478-E6479, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1708259114
  2. D.A. Malyshev, K. Dhami, H.T. Quach, T. Lavergne, P. Ordoukhanian, A. Torkamani, and F.E. Romesberg, "Efficient and sequence-independent replication of DNA containing a third base pair establishes a functional six-letter genetic alphabet", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 109, pp. 12005-12010, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1205176109