Scientists create 'alien' life form with artificial genetic code
Eric Nakagawa stashed this in WTF
Our natural ADN have 4 letters, A-T couple and G-C couple. And they've managed to create a new couple they have called d5SICS–dNaM.
What's interesting is that after introducing it into a common bacteria, it got replicated, it didn't get destroyed, like it normally happens when genetic controllers detect abnormal genetic material.
But that's it. They haven't created any super power or anything new.
Thus, no alien life have been created like this title says. If it's enough to just have an alien element in your body to become an alien, then you become alien when you eat an apple...
Our knowledge of genetics is too poor at the moment to create a new biological function I think.
But it's gonna be super big in this century, maybe as big as condensed matter was in the 20th (branch of quantum physics that lead to transistors, processors etc...) : )
Nature article: "A semi-synthetic organism with an expanded genetic alphabet"
"Organisms are defined by the information encoded in their genomes, and since the origin of life this information has been encoded using a two-base-pair genetic alphabet (A–T and G–C). In vitro, the alphabet has been expanded to include several unnatural base pairs (UBPs)1, 2, 3. We have developed a class of UBPs formed between nucleotides bearing hydrophobic nucleobases, exemplified by the pair formed between d5SICS and dNaM (d5SICS–dNaM), which is efficiently PCR-amplified1 and transcribed4, 5in vitro, and whose unique mechanism of replication has been characterized6, 7. However, expansion of an organism’s genetic alphabet presents new and unprecedented challenges: the unnatural nucleoside triphosphates must be available inside the cell; endogenous polymerases must be able to use the unnatural triphosphates to faithfully replicate DNA containing the UBP within the complex cellular milieu; and finally, the UBP must be stable in the presence of pathways that maintain the integrity of DNA. Here we show that an exogenously expressed algal nucleotide triphosphate transporter efficiently imports the triphosphates of both d5SICS and dNaM (d5SICSTP and dNaMTP) into Escherichia coli, and that the endogenous replication machinery uses them to accurately replicate a plasmid containing d5SICS–dNaM. Neither the presence of the unnatural triphosphates nor the replication of the UBP introduces a notable growth burden. Lastly, we find that the UBP is not efficiently excised by DNA repair pathways. Thus, the resulting bacterium is the first organism to propagate stably an expanded genetic alphabet."