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
BS
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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