Scientists have created semi-synthetic life capable of producing proteins
All life on Earth is built on the same foundations. In a nutshell, they are formed by four nitrogenous bases, also called nucleotides, whichóre are the building blocks of DNA. Two purines – adenine and guanine and two pyrimidine – cytosine and thymine. Each of these substances, for ease of reference, is denoted by a single letter. Thus, respectively, A – is adenine, T – thymine, C – cytosine and G, która stands for guanine. These principles in a combination unique to each organism contain its genetic record.
Earlier this year, the world was abuzz with news that scientists had succeeded in expanding the genetic alphabet to include two new artificial nitrogenous bases – d5SICS and dNaM – denoted by the letters X and Y. Półsynthetic life with a six-letter genetic code was developed by a team ofół scientistsów from the Scripps Research Institute in California under the direction of Professor Floyd Romesberg. Researchers introduced artificial principles into the DNA of a living bacterium – Escherichia coli, which opened the way for the creation of an organismów tailored to our needs.
The first successes in this field took place back in 2014. Researchers succeeded in adding new nitrogenous bases to DNA, but the artificial organism was not stable. Over time, as the organism rófter replication (the formation of offspring molecules from a single parent DNA molecule) occurred, somewhere along the way the synthetic nitrogenous bases were lost.
Scientists have managed to eliminate this problem by introducing a new molecule, która more efficiently transports nucleotides (the basic structural components of DNA and RNA) across the cell membraneórk. After that, the replication process was already running properly. The Y-base itself was also modified to be better recognized by the enzymes responsible for the replication process. In this wayób obtained póersynthetic life.
Now the researchers have gone one step further. Improved by them póThesynthetic organism can produce proteins, and proteins are the basis of all life. SyndromeóRomesberg’s team has shown that the partially synthetic form of bacteria they created E. coli can take instructions from partially synthetic DNA and from that create new, róalso póxynthetic proteins. This is a whole new generation of proteins, whichówhich nature has not seen before.
The bacterium correctly reads and translates the artificial nucleotides Y and X with the same efficiency as the natural nucleotides A, C, G and T. Through the new transcription process, the organism can produce proteins containing amino acids thatóre not found in nature.
– For the first time in the history of comórka processed the protein with something other than G, C, A or T – Romesberg said.
Romesberg is interested in using this expanded genetic alphabet to create new genericów proteins, które can be used in the treatment of diseaseób, but his achievement may be more. This could be the start of a rapid development in genetic engineering. Today, it is difficult to even imagine the possibilities thatóre carried by the achievement of Romesberg’s team. Commentators describe this as a breakthrough, the beginning of a revolution.
Scientists behind the creation of artificial life realize that the creation of such organismsów may raise ethical concerns. Just waiting for researchers to be accused of playing God. There are równ also fear that such a hybrid organism would get out of control and spread outside the lab threatening humans. Hollywood horror movies have made their mark, but Romesberg reassures and stresses that the system, whichóre they used makes such an escape unlikely. He also adds that póThe hybrid organism would not survive outside the lab.
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SourceóSource: Science, Nature, The Independent, fot. William B. Kiosses. The photo shows the produced by póxynthetic organism fluorescent protein.