Just when we thought we would beat natural selection using synthetic biology, a discovery to show us that Nature remains the boss !!
In many microbes, it has been found that the stop codons are interpreted as special amino acids, something which was considered to be an ingenuity of synthetic biologists.
One of the aims of synthetic biology is to manipulate genetics so that the DNA code can be read differently and designer organisms can be created that will be more resistant to infection with viruses. If a different genetic code is used, then when a virus hijacks the infected cell’s machinery so that it can create huge numbers of copies of the virus to allow further infection, it will run into problems because the synthetic cell will make the virus incorrectly as it uses its own altered code. The synthetic organism will only be able to share its genetics with other synthetic organisms that have had their code manipulated similarly. However, a recent report in Science suggests that this type of recoding might actually be common amongst microbial life forms, which could provide a serious problem for synthetic biologists.
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