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Synthetic biologists seek to create new life with forms and functions not seen in nature. Although scientists are a long way from making a completely artificial life form, they have made semi-synthetic organisms that have an expanded genetic code, allowing them to produce never-before-seen proteins. Now, researchers reporting in Journal of the American Chemical Society have optimized a semi-synthetic bacteria to efficiently produce proteins containing unnatural amino acids.
All of Earth's natural life forms store information using a four-letter genetic code consisting of the nucleotides deoxyadenosine (dA), deoxyguanosine (dG), deoxycytidine (dC), and deoxythymidine (dT). Within the DNA double helix, dA pairs with dT, and dG with dC, to form the "rungs" of the DNA ladder. Recently, researchers have made synthetic nucleotides that can pair up with each other. When they placed these...
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