HOME ABOUT CONTACT AVAILABLE ISSUES SUBSCRIBE MEDIA & ADS CONFERENCE CALENDAR
LATEST UPDATES » Vol 22, No 01, January 2018 – Weighing the options       » Scientists close in on origin of SARS       » Chinese researchers map key protein in DNA repair with near-atomic resolution       » Ryzodeg reduces hypoglycaemia in type 2 diabetic fasting patients       » United States cancer drug costs increasing despite competition       » Eating yogurt may help reduce chronic inflammation in women      
BIOBOARD - SINGAPORE
Singapore researchers create new ‘letters’ to enhance DNA functions
The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) researchers have created two new genetic letters – Ds and Px, which specifically combine with each other to form an artificial base pair, functioning as a third DNA base pair, that can help better detect infectious diseases like dengue and Zika.


Just like how letters are strung together to form words, our DNA is also strung together by letters to encode proteins. The genetic alphabet contains only 4 natural letters - A, C, G and T, which hold the blueprint for the production of proteins that make our bodies work. Now, researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have created a DNA technology with two new genetic letters that could better detect infectious diseases, such as dengue and Zika.

Genetic alphabet expansion technology is the introduction of artificial base pairs into DNA. The existing four genetic letters are naturally bound together in base pairs of A-T and G-C. These specific base pair formations are essential in DNA replication, which occurs in all living organisms. It is the process by which a DNA molecule is duplicated to produce two identical molecules.

“The expansion of the genetic alphabet is a significant scientific achievement. It sheds insights into DNA’s natural replication mechanism, which will help us to design unique DNA molecules and technologies. For example, our technology can be used to create novel diagnostics and therapeutic agents with superior efficacy,” said IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying.

In 2009, IBN Team Leader and Principal Research Scientist Dr Ichiro Hirao and IBN Senior Research Scientist Dr Michiko Kimoto created two new genetic letters – Ds and Px, which specifically combine with each other to form an artificial base pair that could function as a third DNA base pair. However, the molecular structure of the new base pair had never been determined until they collaborated recently with Professor Andrea Marx from the University of Konstanz in Germany on the structural analysis of their new base pair.

Using X-ray crystallography, the researchers uncovered the 3D molecular structure of the Ds-Px base pair during DNA replication by analyzing the X-ray diffraction through a crystal. They found that the structure of the new artificial base pair was strikingly similar to a natural base pair.

Dr Hirao said, “The inspiration for the design of our new DNA base pair came from jigsaw puzzles, where complementary shapes fit together to form the specific pair. However, our concept had only been a hypothesis until now. We did not know the actual molecular structure of our Ds-Px pair during DNA replication until the recent study with our collaborators at University of Konstanz. They confirmed that we are heading in the right direction, which would allow us to create biological components that can enhance DNA’s natural functions.”

Using this genetic alphabet expansion technology, IBN is developing DNA aptamers, which are modified DNA molecules that can bind to molecular targets in the body. The team plans to launch a test kit using these DNA aptamers to detect infectious diseases, such as dengue and Zika, in the next two years.

Reference

Karin Betz, Michiko Kimoto, Kay Diderichs, Ichiro Hirao and Andrea Marx, “Structural >Basis for Expansion of the Genetic Alphabet by an Artificial Base Pair,” Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 56 (2017) 12000.

Source: Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Click here for the complete issue.

NEWS CRUNCH  
news Biology of Ageing II - Impactful Interventions
news Separation of conjoined twins presents surgical and ethical challenges for MassGeneral Hospital for Children staff
news MIT Technology Review announces 2018's 10 'Innovators Under 35 Asia'
PR NEWSWIRE  
Asia Pacific Biotech News
EDITORS' CHOICE  

Lady Ganga: Nilza'S Story
COLUMNS  
Subscribe to APBN E-Newsletter
Find us under 'Others' option to receive APBN e-newsletters thrice a month!

APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Addressing the ageing population / Clinical trials
March:
Nutrition / Women in Science
April:
Digestive health / Intellectual property
May:
Asthma / Dental health
June:
Oncology / Biotech landscape in APAC
July:
Water management / Vaccination
August:
Regenerative medicine / Biotech start ups
September:
Digital healthcare / 3D printing
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
MAGAZINE TAGS
About Us
Events
Available issues
Editorial Board
Letters to Editor
Instructions to Authors
Advertise with Us
CONTACT
World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.
5 Toh Tuck Link, Singapore 596224
Tel: 65-6466-5775
Fax: 65-6467-7667
» For Editorial Enquiries:
   biotech_edit@wspc.com or Ms Lim Guan Yu
» For Subscriptions, Advertisements &
   Media Partnerships Enquiries:
   biotech_ad@wspc.com
Copyright© 2018 World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd  •  Privacy Policy