Genetic coding revamp

Scientists have developed a new genetic language using a ribosome that can read instructions that are 4 base pairs long, enabling the construction of designer proteins containing a variety of unnatural elements, according to a study published online today (February 14) in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commons, S. Jähnichen"It is brilliant," said organic chemist linkurl:John Sutherland;http://www.chemistry.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/staff/showprofile.php?id=390 of the University of Manchester in th

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Feb 13, 2010
Scientists have developed a new genetic language using a ribosome that can read instructions that are 4 base pairs long, enabling the construction of designer proteins containing a variety of unnatural elements, according to a study published online today (February 14) in Nature.
Image: Wikimedia commons,
S. Jähnichen
"It is brilliant," said organic chemist linkurl:John Sutherland;http://www.chemistry.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/staff/showprofile.php?id=390 of the University of Manchester in the UK, who was not involved in the work. "[It's] a whole new genetic code [that can be used to create] all sorts of different polymers with all sorts of applications. It's a truly important piece of science." For years, scientists have been working to incorporate what they term unnatural amino acids -- structurally modified amino acids with different physicochemical and biological properties -- into proteins. The aim is to better understand normal cellular processes, such as the functional effects of posttranslational modifications, as well as to...
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