A interesting advance in biotechnology
TSRI Scientists Create First Stable Semisynthetic Organism
LA JOLLA, CA – January 23, 2017 – Life’s genetic code has only ever contained four natural bases. These bases pair up to form two “base pairs”—the rungs of the DNA ladder—and they have simply been rearranged to create bacteria and butterflies, penguins and people. Four bases make up all life as we know it.
Until now. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced the development of the first stable semisynthetic organism. Building on their 2014 study in which they synthesized a DNA base pair, the researchers created a new bacterium that uses the four natural bases (called A, T, C and G), which every living organism possesses, but that also holds as a pair two synthetic bases called X and Y in its genetic code.
TSRI Professor Floyd Romesberg and his colleagues have now shown that their single-celled organism can hold on indefinitely to the synthetic base pair as it divides. Their research was published January 23, 2017, online ahead of print in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We’ve made this semisynthetic organism more life-like,” said Romesberg, senior author of the new study.
While applications for this kind of organism are still far in the future, the researchers say the work could be used to create new functions for single-celled organisms that play important roles in drug discovery and much more.