JAN 28, 2019 7:31 PM PST

Expanding the Genetic Code

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The genetic code that creates all life on Earth consists of four nucleotide bases: Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine. In the double-stranded helix of DNA, these bases pair up with each other in a certain way. In recent years, researchers have been able to expand the genetic code with new, synthetic bases. 

Related: Semi-synthetic Bacterial Cell now Makes Unnatural Proteins

These novel bases have long chemical names, but they’ve been abbreviated X and Y. They are called xeno nucleic acids or XNAs. It took many years for researchers to figure out how to pair them properly within a genome. Now they’ve been able to do it, opening up many possibilities for creating synthetic organisms. Learn more about the potential uses of such organisms from the video.  

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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