Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

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

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

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.



  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, 2017.
  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.

Is there a difference between a scientific blog and scientific journal?

Friday, January 14th, 2011

In my blogroll, I link to Tim Gowers’ blog. He is a very eminent mathematician, and so it is interesting to see what motivates him to write a blog about mathematics. This latest post goes a large way to explaining why. He starts by speculating about the features of some piece of research that might render it conventionally unpublishable, highlighting two reasons; (1) it is not original and (2) it does not lead anywhere conclusive. He then goes on to show how either outcome might nevertheless be useful to someone, even if unpublishable conventionally. The rest of his post then concentrates on the cap-set problem in pure mathematics. It boils down to the observation that the community as a whole might often spot something that individual might have a blind spot for. Or, that others may in turn be inspired by lines of research which had apparently led nowhere for the original poster. Tim of course is favoured by having often 80+ comments appended to each of his posts!