A scientists’ team obtained a super DNA with eight letters, a synthetic code that doesn’t exist in nature.
But what is this super DNA for, besides than for the scientific glory given to its creators? In the future it might, potentially, help to obtain new medicines, to storage datas and to recognise alien life forms!
What’s the DNA?
The deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a macromolecule that contains the needed functionings for the right deveolpment of the cells of an organism.
It contains the genetic heritage of every, terrestrial, life beings, included the human. It basically encloses the secret of life.
The Hachimoji DNA
The study of the super DNA has been published on the magazine Science. The synthetic DNA, which doesn’t exist in nature, has eight letters, instead of four. Besides the letters A (Adenine), C (Cytosine), T (Thymine) and G (Guanine), the new DNA has other four letters: Z, P, S, B.
Right for this reason it’s been called Hachimoji DNA, a fusion between two japanese words: hachi, which means eight, and moji, that, instead, means letter; “eight letters”.
This improved DNA results to be stable under the thermodynamic profile and, so as well as for its natural model, it has the classic three-dimensional shape with double helix.
Like the natural DNA even the Hachimoji can be copied by the RNA and it can control the proteins, but it can storage an informations’ quantity surely higher.
The super DNA has been created by a group of international researchers, led by Shuichi Hoshika and financed by the NASA. To cooperate where the scientists of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution and of the company Firebird Biomolecular Science.
As well as the scientists of the DNA Software Inc. and of the departments of Biochemestry and Molecular Biology of the University of Indiana and Chicago, coordinated by the professor Steven A. Brenner.
The team isn’t new in this field. They already tried, infact, to realise an improved DNA in the past. That one had six letters instead of the classic four.
Two letters in advance that, by the way, weren’t enough to make it stable. This one with eight letters is surely more stable and, as well as the four one, which encloses all the life species of the planet Earth, is compatible with life.
Did we so create in laboratory a super DNA that can help us to find out alien life forms or did we create by ourselves an alien life form?
The line that divides from each other is really thin and feeble. On the planet Earth all the life forms are connect to a double helix structure with four letters, the DNA.
There aren’t in nature any other kinds of DNA. However the Hachimoji created by the scientists is compatible with life and it shows the criteria for a darwinian system of molecular evolution.
The discovery is amazing and it remembers us that we have to stop to look for life as we know it. Maybe on other worlds the life developed differently, maybe in other planets the natural DNA has eight letters. Can we so claim to have created by ourselves alien life?
According to Steven A. Brenner no: “It would be an error saying that the Hachimoji DNA is an example of alien life. If it might go out from the laboratory it won’t be able to survive”.
It is though a valid help while looking for alien life forms that aren’t like our vision of “life”.
Again Brenner, infact, claims: “It enlarges our understanding of the kinds of molecules that could storage informations in the extraterrestrial life on alien worlds”.
Even Andrea Cavalli, laboratory director of Biology and Computational Chemistry of the italian Institute of Technology, said something about it.
“It’s a really interesting result for the scientific community. It demonstrates that it’s possible to keep a stable three-dimensional structure even using letters of the gene code, the basement, different than the standard ones”.
The super DNA opened us the eyes, by showing us that the life can have thousand different shades.
This post is also available in: Italiano