Unnatural Genes Used to Replace Missing DNA Keep Cells Alive

From Scientific American:

Synthetic-genes-proteins_1 Synthetic biology garnered national headlines in May 2010 when a team led by J. Craig Venter announced it had created the world’s first “synthetic cell.” The group used computers to copy an entire bacterial genome that, when inserted into a cell whose own genome had been removed, “booted up” the cell, which then passed the synthesized genome to its offspring.

This accomplishment was no small feat but the new genome, although man-made, was almost entirely a replication of one that already existed in nature. Now, a new study published January 4 in PLoS One has shown that DNA sequences designed in the laboratory and distinct from any found in nature can, when inserted into cells missing genes necessary for survival, “rescue” some of those cells.

More here.