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Enzymes allow DNA to swap information with exotic molecules
Date:3/21/2013

ngths of DNA could be faithfully transcribed into TNA. The limiting factor in the process was an effective enzyme to guide the accurate transcription of the DNA message. In the case of normal biological transcription, DNA is transcribed into RNA with the help of a specific enzyme known as DNA polymerase. Such naturally occurring polymerases, Chaput points out, are highly specific, and don't work well for DNA to TNA transcription or reverse transcription.

Recent advances in protein engineering however, have produced a new breed of synthetic polymerases. In the current study, one of theseknown as Therminator DNA polymerase, faithfully transcribed a 70 nucleotide DNA sequence into TNA, while another, known as SuperScript II (SSII) performed reverse-transcription back into DNA with impressively high fidelity. Sequences of both 3-letter and 4-letter DNA messages were transcribed and reverse transcribed, both with over 90 percent accuracy.

The research paves the way for more sophisticated manipulation of TNA and other xenonucleic acids and may strengthen the case that TNA or a closely related molecule set the stage for the emergence of RNA and the first earthly life.

Given the enormous potential for this research for the fields of synthetic biology, exobiology and medicine, it is likely that XNAs will be produced in greater abundance by large chemical laboratories. Currently, the synthesis and purification of nucleoside triphosphates needed to form XNA backbones remains a delicate and labor-intensive process.


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Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer
Joseph.Caspermeyer@asu.edu
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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