In DepthSynthetic Biology

Mission possible: Rewriting the genetic code

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Science  19 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6301, pp. 739
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6301.739

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The term "life hacking" usually refers to clever tweaks that make your life more productive. But on p. 819, a team of scientists comes a step closer to the literal meaning: hacking the machinery of life itself. They have designed—though not completely assembled—a synthetic Escherichia coli genome that could use a protein-coding scheme different from the one employed by all known life. Requiring a staggering 62,000 DNA changes, the finished genome would be the most complicated genetic engineering feat so far. E. coli running this rewritten genome could become a new workhorse for laboratory experiments and a factory for new industrial chemicals, its creators predict.