Archive for February 15th, 2010

Scientists manufacture a new type of DNA

February 15, 2010

DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, is the molecule that contains the genetic code of all organisms. This includes animals, plants, and bacteria. DNA is found in each cell in the organism and tells each cell what proteins to make, in other words it tells the cell what to do. (This is how DNA replicates and this is how cells die).

DNA is shaped like a double helix, which is like a ladder twisted into a spiral. Each “leg” of the “ladder” is a line of nucleotides.

A nucleotide is a molecule made up of deoxyribose (a kind of sugar with 5 carbon atoms), a phosphate group (made of phosphorus and oxygen), and a nitrogenous base. DNA is made of four types of nitrogenous base:

  • adenine (A)
  • thymine (T)
  • cytosine (C)
  • guanine (G)

These four letters, A, T, G and C make up the instructions, or genetic code, for all living things.

Now, a new way of using the genetic code has been created, allowing proteins to be made with properties that have never been seen in the natural world. The breakthrough could eventually lead to the creation of new or “improved” life forms incorporating these new materials into their tissue. Read more here or here.