A programming language for DNA

Artificial DNA-based circuits could someday program cellular behavior, authors say

Melissa Lee Phillips
Nov 14, 2007
Researchers have made an important leap in designing DNA-based circuits, reports this week's Science. They've created the first system that allows amplification of desired DNA sequences without using enzymes -- a step towards creating artificial biochemical circuits inside cells."They've begun to develop a programming language, a software, for DNA," said Andrew Ellington of the University of Texas at Austin. The work is "a significant advance over previous [attempts]," he added.Scientists have previously used DNA to build synthetic biochemical circuits. But these networks have generally only been designed to perform one task. "These were machines that carried out a particular function or solved a particular problem," Ellington told The Scientist. In the new work, "we show a method of designing them generally so that it can be applied basically to any sequence you want," said first author David Yu Zhang of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.Zhang and...