Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacterium engineered with DNA in which thymine is replaced by synthetic building block

Date:
June 29, 2011
Source:
Freie Universitaet Berlin
Summary:
The genetic information of all living cells is stored in the DNA composed of the four canonical bases adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). An international team of researchers has now succeeded in generating a bacterium possessing a DNA in which thymine is replaced by the synthetic building block 5-Chlorouracil (c), a substance toxic for other organisms.

Artist's rendering of E. coli.
Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki

The genetic information of all living cells is stored in the DNA composed of the four canonical bases adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). An international team of researchers has now succeeded in generating a bacterium possessing a DNA in which thymine is replaced by the synthetic building block 5-chlorouracil (c), a substance toxic for other organisms.

Related Articles


The project, coordinated by Rupert Mutzel (Institut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin) and Philippe Marlière (Heurisko USA Inc.), involved researchers of the French CEA (Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives) and of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). As described in the latest issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, the experimental work was based on a unique technology developed by Marlière and Mutzel enabling the directed evolution of organisms under strictly controlled conditions. Large populations of microbial cells are cultured for prolonged periods in the presence of a toxic chemical -- in this case, 5-chlorouracil -- at sublethal levels, thereby selecting for genetic variants capable of tolerating higher concentrations of the toxic substance.

In response to the appearance of such variants in the cell population the concentration of the toxic chemical in the growth medium is increased, thus keeping the selection pressure constant. This automated procedure of long term evolution was applied to adapt genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria unable to synthesize the natural nucleobase thymine to grow on increasing concentrations of 5-chlorouracil. After a culture period of about 1000 generations descendants of the original strain were obtained which used 5-chlorouracil as complete substitute for thymine. Subsequent genome analysis revealed numerous mutations in the DNA of the adapted bacteria. The contribution of these mutations to the adaptation of the cells towards the halogenated base will be the subject of follow-up studies.

Besides the obvious interest of this radical change in the chemistry of living systems for basic research the scientists consider the outcome of their work also to be of importance for "xenobiology," a branch of synthetic biology. This young area of the life sciences aims at the generation of new organisms not found in nature harboring metabolic traits optimized for alternative modes of energy production or for the synthesis of high value chemicals. Like GMOs, such organisms are seen as a potential threat for natural ecosystems when released from their laboratory confinements, either through direct competition with wild type organisms or through diffusion of their "synthetic" DNA.

Scientists have recognized that physical containment cannot in every single case prevent engineered live forms from reaching natural habitats, in the same way as radioactive isotopes can leak into the surroundings of a nuclear power plant. However, synthetic organisms like those evolved by Marlière and Mutzel and their collaborators which depend on the availability of substances for their proliferation not found in nature or which incorporate non-natural building blocks in their genetic material could neither compete nor exchange genetic messages with wild type organisms, but would die in the absence of the xenobiotic.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Freie Universitaet Berlin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Philippe Marlière, Julien Patrouix, Volker Döring, Piet Herdewijn, Sabine Tricot, Stéphane Cruveiller, Madeleine Bouzon, Rupert Mutzel. Chemical Evolution of a Bacterium's Genome. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201100535

Cite This Page:

Freie Universitaet Berlin. "Bacterium engineered with DNA in which thymine is replaced by synthetic building block." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628132438.htm>.
Freie Universitaet Berlin. (2011, June 29). Bacterium engineered with DNA in which thymine is replaced by synthetic building block. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628132438.htm
Freie Universitaet Berlin. "Bacterium engineered with DNA in which thymine is replaced by synthetic building block." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628132438.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Researchers Produce Viable Bacterium in Which One of Four DNA Bases Is Replaced by Synthetic Analog

Aug. 25, 2011 — An international team of researchers has achieved a world-first by producing a viable bacterium in which one of the four DNA bases has been replaced by a synthetic analog compound. The advantage of ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins