A semi-synthetic organism that stores and retrieves increased genetic information

Yorke Zhang, Jerod L. Ptacin, Emil C. Fischer, Hans R. Aerni, Carolina E. Caffaro, Kristine San Jose, Aaron W. Feldman, Court R. Turner, Floyd E. Romesberg
2017 Nature  
Since at least the last common ancestor of all life on earth, genetic information has been stored in a four-letter alphabet that is propagated and retrieved by the formation of two base pairs. The central goal of synthetic biology is to create new life forms and functions 1 , and the most general route to this goal is the creation of semi-synthetic organisms (SSOs) whose DNA harbors two additional letters that form a third, unnatural base pair (UBP). Previously, our efforts to generate such
more » ... culminated in the creation of a strain of Escherichia coli that by virtue of a nucleoside triphosphate transporter from Phaeodactylum tricornutum (PtNTT2), imports the requisite unnatural triphosphates from the media and then uses them to replicate a plasmid containing the UBP dNaM-dTPT3 (Fig. 1a) 2 . While the SSO stores increased information, retrieval of the information requires in vivo transcription of the UBP into mRNA and tRNA, aminoacylation of the tRNA with a non-canonical amino acid (ncAA), and finally, efficient participation of the UBP in decoding at the ribosome. Here, we report the in vivo transcription of DNA containing dNaM and dTPT3 into mRNAs with two different unnatural codons and tRNAs with cognate unnatural anticodons, and their efficient decoding at the ribosome to direct the site-specific incorporation of natural or ncAAs into superfolder green fluorescent protein (sfGFP). The results demonstrate that interactions other than hydrogen bonding can contribute to every step of information storage and retrieval. The resulting SSO both encodes and retrieves increased information and should serve as a platform for the creation of new life forms and functions. Green fluorescent protein and variants such as sfGFP 3 have served as model systems for the study of ncAA incorporation via genetic code expansion 4 , including at position Y151, which Users may view, print, copy, and download text and data-mine the content in such documents, for the purposes of academic research, subject always to the full Conditions of use:
doi:10.1038/nature24659 pmid:29189780 pmcid:PMC5796663 fatcat:g7q6w2rmrnb7raxufhwyloot7u