Scientists Create First Living Organism that Transmits Added Letters in DNA 'Alphabet'
May 7, 2014—Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.
“Life on Earth in all its diversity is encoded by only two pairs of DNA bases, A-T and C-G, and what we’ve made is an organism that stably contains those two plus a third, unnatural pair of bases,” said TSRI Associate Professor Floyd E. Romesberg, who led the research team. “This shows that other solutions to storing information are possible and, of course, takes us closer to an expanded-DNA biology that will have many exciting applications—from new medicines to new kinds of nanotechnology.”
The report on the achievement appears May 7, 2014, in an advance online publication of the journal Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v509/n7500/full/nature13314.html