Expanding the Genetic Alphabet May Be Easier Than Previously Thought

Expanding the Genetic Alphabet May Be Easier Than Previously Thought

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A new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute suggests that the replication process for DNA—the genetic instructions for living organisms that is composed of four bases (C, G, A and T)—is more open to unnatural letters than had previously been thought. An expanded “DNA alphabet” could carry more information than natural DNA, potentially coding for a much wider range of molecules and enabling a variety of powerful applications, from precise molecular probes and nanomachines to useful new life forms.

The research, published in Nature Chemical Biology, solves the mystery of how a previously identified pair of artificial DNA bases can go through the DNA replication process almost as efficiently as the four natural bases.

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