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Scientists have created cells with an expanded genetic alphabet that includes two more letters.
“We now have a cell that survives and lives with more information in its genome,” said Floyd Romesberg, the synthetic biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California who led the work.
Romesberg and colleagues managed to coax E. coli bacteria into taking up their six-letter DNA and making copies of it. The cells’ enzymes copied the two new letters, which the scientists call X and Y for short, along with the usual four. The cells grew a little more slowly than normal, but otherwise seemed no worse for wear, the team reports today in Nature.
Cells with an expanded genetic alphabet could potentially make a wider range of proteins. Image: Synthorx