Harvard Medical School Researchers Advance Toward Engineering "Wildly New Genome"
In two parallel projects, researchers have created new genomes inside the bacterium E. coli in ways that test the limits of genetic reprogramming and open new possibilities for increasing flexibility, productivity and safety in biotechnology. In one project, researchers created a novel genome—the first-ever entirely genomically recoded organism—by replacing all 321 instances of a specific "genetic three-letter word," called a codon, throughout the organism's entire genome with a word of supposedly identical meaning. The researchers then reintroduced a reprogramed version of the original word (with a new meaning, a new amino acid) into the bacteria, expanding the bacterium's vocabulary and allowing it to produce proteins that do not normally occur in nature.
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