Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Scientists create artificial DNA molecule

Scientists have successfully created a pair of DNA nucleobases, which, like adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine in natural DNA, can copy themselves nearly as well as the real thing. 

(Page 2 of 2)



With their X-ray crystallography images, Romesberg — along with colleagues in nearby San Diego, Calif., and in Germany — found that while NaM and 5SICS aren't lined up edge-to-edge inside a strand of DNA, they shift so they are in the correct formation for copying when DNA polymerase comes along. "The DNA polymerase apparently induces this unnatural base pair to form a structure that's virtually indistinguishable from that of a natural base pair," said Denis Malyshev, another Scripps Institute chemist in the study. He and his colleagues think that the chemical bonds the artificial bases use are flexible, so they can shift positions easily. 

Skip to next paragraph

They also found that when the artificial bases slide inside the polymerase, like a sheet of paper placed inside a copying machine, the polymerase undergoes the same chemical interactions as it does when it works with natural bases.  They also found the polymerase refuses to pair an artificial base with a natural base, which is similar to how polymerases will only match A's to T's and C's to G's.  

In the future, artificial DNA building blocks like NaM and 5SICS could expand the well-known "A, C, G, T" vocabulary of DNA, according to a statement from the Scripps Institute.  Synthetic bases may work even if they aren't shaped like natural bases, as long as they have flexible chemical bonds, the way NaM and 5SICS do. 

Romesberg, Malyshev and their colleagues are now working on tweaking NaM and 5SICS so that natural DNA strands with those synthetic bases added will copy even more efficiently, at a rate that's closer to the rate found in all-natural DNA, they wrote in their paper. Once they accomplish that, they can start building synthetic organisms from the ground up. "If we can get this new base pair to replicate with high efficiency and fidelity in vivo [i.e., in a living organism], we'll have a semi-synthetic organism," Romesberg said.

Follow InnovationNewsDaily on Twitter @News_Innovation, or on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 InnovationNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!