by Alex Vikoulov [Posted July, 22, 2019 11.15 am PST]
A semi-synthetic organism was created and proved to be stable in the lab in La Jolla, California
Researchers have extended their efforts to create and optimize a semi-synthetic organism (SSO) using analogues to DNA and RNA. Previously, the team of scientists, led by Aaron W. Feldman of The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, reported the creation of a SSO that had maintained an ‘unnatural’ base pair (UBP) in its DNA. Efficiently transcribing synthetic messenger RNAs, the organism was able to produce proteins that contained ‘noncanonical’ amino acids, or amino acids outside the list of natural proteins produced by biological life.
In the new study, the researchers explored different analogues to the base pairs usually found in DNA and RNA (deoxy- and ribo- nucleotides). They found that a variety of nucleotides, which have no structural or functional similarity to natural nucleotides, can be incorporated into the cells during replication, to include each step of the entire process of information storage and retrieval.
Additionally, they have identified what they believe to be the optimal unnatural base pairs for creating the target SSO. The newly-optimized SSO is capable of producing proteins that contain multiple, proximal noncanonical amino acids. "[R]emarkably, we found that a wide variety of unnatural ribonucleotides can be efficiently transcribed into RNA and then productively and selectively paired at the ribosome to mediate the synthesis of proteins with ncAAs," write the authors in their paper.
The study, “Optimization of Replication, Transcription, and Translation in a Semi-Synthetic Organism,” was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). The research is supported by NASA Astrobiology through the Exobiology Program.
READ MORE: Information Storage and Retrieval in a Semi-Synthetic Organism [NASA, Astrobiology]
Keywords: NASA, synthetic life, astrobiology, exobiology, semi-synthetic organism, SSO, DNA, RNA, Aaron W. Feldman, Scripps Research Institute, UBP, noncanonical amino acids, biological life, nucleotides, information storage, Journal of the American Chemical Society, JACS
Image Credits: Shutterstock, The Scripps Research Institute
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