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Reprogrammed Bacterium Speaks New Language of Life

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the already-available-in-google-translate dept.

Biotech 141

wabrandsma writes "New Scientist reports that 'A bacterium has had its genome recoded so that the standard language of life no longer applies. Instead, one of its words has been freed up to impart a different meaning, allowing the addition of genetic elements that don't exist in nature. ... The four letters of the genetic code are usually read by a cell's protein-production machinery, the ribosome, in sets of three letters called codons. Each codon "word" provides instructions about which amino acid to add next to a growing peptide chain. Although there are 64 ways of combining four letters, only 61 codons are used to encode the 20 amino acids found in nature. ... The three combinations left over, UAG, UAA and UGA, act like a full stop or period – telling the ribosome to terminate the process at that point. ... A team of synthetic biologists led by Farren Isaacs at Yale University have now fundamentally rewritten these rules (abstract). They took Escherichia coli cells and replaced all of their UAG stop codons with UAAs. They also deleted the instructions for making the release factor that usually binds to UAG, rendering UAG meaningless. Next they set about assigning UAG a new meaning, by designing molecules called tRNAs and accompanying enzymes that would attach an unnatural amino acid – fed to the cell – whenever they spotted this codon."

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141 comments

4^4 (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 9 months ago | (#45176093)

>Although there are 64 ways of combining four letters

4*4*4*4 = 256

eh?

Re:4^4 (2)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 9 months ago | (#45176107)

Or did they mean 3 letters of four symbols?

4*4*4 = 64.

But that's not what the article said. Bad article.

Re:4^4 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176253)

that is very useful
[url=http://www.nile7.com%5d] [/url]
[nile7.com]

Re:4^4 (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | about 9 months ago | (#45176613)

It's just genome sequencing, do the details REALLY matter?

Re: 4^4 (1)

mfh (56) | about 9 months ago | (#45177563)

You are now a tree frog.

Re:4^4 (2)

tricorn (199664) | about 9 months ago | (#45177885)

4 letters (base pairs), "sets of 3 letters called codons". "Although there are 64 ways of combining 4 letters ...", in that context, is clear and correct.

Re:4^4 (4, Informative)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 9 months ago | (#45176113)

4*4*4*4 = 256 eh?

64 ways of combining four letters taken 3 at a time to form a codon.

Re:4^4 (0)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 9 months ago | (#45176137)

Sorry, I made the mistake of reading what it said, not what it meant.

Re:4^4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176243)

Yep. But you'll do better next time, I know. :)

Re:4^4 (2)

oobayly (1056050) | about 9 months ago | (#45176451)

But you didn't. If you read what it said you would have:
26x26x26x26 = 456,976

Assuming you have 26 letters in your alphabet. Irish has less, German has more.

Re:4^4 (2)

Fjandr (66656) | about 9 months ago | (#45177555)

But there aren't 26 letters in the DNA alphabet. There are 4.

Re:4^4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176567)

Sorry, I made the mistake of reading what it said, not what it meant.

2 sentences before that it said "sets of three letters called codons". You didn't read what it said, either.

Re:4^4 (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 9 months ago | (#45176965)

Reading comprehension is hard... this summary is not clearly written but it is accurate.

Re:4^4 (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#45177391)

Agreed, reading comprehension is harder than it sounds, however the summary does say. " there are 64 ways of combining four letters". The first time I read the summary my brain auto-corrected it to "three" without letting me know. I had to go back and re-read the summary to see where the first post got 4^4 from.

Re:4^4 (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#45177659)

PS: I read the author's intended meaning, but the statement is very ambiguous,there's really no right/wrong way to read it. It could be fixed by changing it to something like "There are 64 ways to arrange 4 letters into codons". Reading comprehension is a valuable skill but so it clear expression. A well written piece has the ability to communicate concepts accurately and unambiguously to a broad range of comprehension skills (even if it's aimed at a specialised audience).

But let's not be too harsh, Slashdot summaries are written by amateurs, I don't mean that as an insult, I've posted a couple of my own amateur summaries. The author of this summary is probably kicking himself over his choice of words - repeat that exercise often and the quality will improve. Communication skills are not something geeks are renowned for, which is a shame since most are worth listening to. At 55 I'm still tyring to improve mine, I was in the top 5% of Aussie school kids for reading comprehension when at HS (my English teacher thought my friend and I had cheated, lol). I just assumed that meant I was good at writing too, it wasn't until I went to uni at age 30 that I realised my English teacher was right to be skeptical, my writing skills really were inadequate.

It's easy to practice what you enjoy like (say) programming, it's much harder finding enthusiasm to practice what your not so good at. In my 20+yrs experience as a software developer, this is why so many geeks have trouble communicating with "suits". They wrongly assume that what they write is comprehensible because they wrote it, and if you can't comprehend it then you must be either ignorant or a "moron".

Re:4^4 (2)

quantumghost (1052586) | about 9 months ago | (#45177251)

Sorry, I made the mistake of reading what it said, not what it meant.

That's ok, you'll just evolve to do better next time.

Re:4^4 (2)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 9 months ago | (#45176123)

I see you didn't even make it through the summary. Good form.

Re:4^4 (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 9 months ago | (#45176213)

It's the weekend.

Re:4^4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176161)

Its dumbed-down. It is not supposed to make sense. I stopped reading at "standard language of life", when googling for that phrase turned up essentially only TFA. Did I miss anything?

Re:4^4 (1)

tricorn (199664) | about 9 months ago | (#45177981)

Try "language of life", quite a few hits. It's a fairly common phrase referring to the specific encoding of amino acids into codons,
plus the stop codons. If you didn't recognize the phrase to start with, you probably shouldn't be criticizing it for being dumbed-down.

Re:4^4 (2)

KalvinB (205500) | about 9 months ago | (#45176189)

Note that the only examples of words had 3 letters.

4^3 = 64

So what they meant to say was that there are only 64 ways of combining four letters in 3 letter words.

Re:4^4 (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 9 months ago | (#45176223)

If you had an infinitely long one of these, it would be kind of like a Turing machine.

Re:4^4 (5, Funny)

drkim (1559875) | about 9 months ago | (#45176343)

If you had an infinitely long one of these, it would be kind of like a Turing machine.

If you had one three billion long you could have Turing himself.

Re:4^4 (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 9 months ago | (#45176969)

Well, if you only had one of them, you would only have a very tiny bit of Turing himself.

Von Neumann Turing? (2)

Guppy (12314) | about 9 months ago | (#45177429)

Well, if you only had one of them, you would only have a very tiny bit of Turing himself.

Well, his mommy had only that much at one point. Fortunately, it was capable of self replication :P

Explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176301)

codons are words composed of 3 symbols each of which can take on 4 values. 4^3 = 64

The work described here is known as amber and ochre codon replacement. it's not new. its 20 years old. I have no idea why they think this is new or newly significant, since people do this all the time. It's a commerical product.

Re:4^4 (2, Interesting)

mikael (484) | about 9 months ago | (#45176833)

Codons are sets of three letters. Every creature has its own unique codon table - every three letters (GATC) make up one codon, so there are 64 possibilities. But the fun thing is that many codons actually code for the same amino acid, but take different times to complete the process. Either because some molecular rotation is taking place or just because it's a time delay to allow folding to complete elsewhere. Then sometimes the sequence is used in reverse order (creating a back-to-front version of whatever is made) and sometimes even the sequence of letters is read with an offset of one or two letters, so essentially one group of letters can code for six different chains of amino acids.

Re:4^4 (3, Informative)

quantumghost (1052586) | about 9 months ago | (#45177327)

Codons are sets of three letters. Every creature has its own unique codon table - every three letters (GATC) make up one codon, so there are 64 possibilities.

Almost. Every species has its own take on tRNA codong, but there is a lot of similarity up to the Kingdom level [wikipedia.org]

But the fun thing is that many codons actually code for the same amino acid, but take different times to complete the process. Either because some molecular rotation is taking place or just because it's a time delay to allow folding to complete elsewhere. Then sometimes the sequence is used in reverse order (creating a back-to-front version of whatever is made) and sometimes even the sequence of letters is read with an offset of one or two letters, so essentially one group of letters can code for six different chains of amino acids.

Uh, no...not molecular rotation or time delay....this is actually more of a planned overlap [wikipedia.org] . Pretty neat how nature planned this one. And as for mRNA being converted to a protein using tRNA (tranlation [mcgraw-hill.com] ), it is strict one-way encoding (5' to 3' IIRC). dsDNA (but not ssDNA) (transscription [mcgraw-hill.com] ) may be read in either direction, but mRNA not so (is is very much like ssDNA)

Deleted User (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176131)

lol poosecks!! da gr8 matin ritwels of da diplodicus!!! LOL

Scary dna werds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176143)

This dna stuff is scary! I scared. Please someone pet my snake until it hisses and spits at you. I don't understand dna but I want to spread mine all over your face and make you taste it.

Re:Scary dna werds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176231)

It seems the soulless minions of orthodoxy are trying to opress your truth!

Re:Scary dna werds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176605)

I couldn't remember where I heard "souless minions of orthodoxy" before so I had to Google it. Was DS9 referencing it from somewhere else or is that the source?

labeling food food (3, Interesting)

bob_jenkins (144606) | about 9 months ago | (#45176163)

I would approve of requiring labeling on food if it was produced by one of these.

Re:labeling food food (5, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 9 months ago | (#45176307)

I would approve of requiring labeling on food if it was produced by one of these.

I'm quite sure that, some day, these things will be labeling us as food...

Re:labeling food food (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177267)

Soulless Green, they call it.

Re:labeling food food (2)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 9 months ago | (#45177371)

You *are* food. You just have not met the consumers yet. Just remember, when the harvesters arrive, to not board the vehicle.

To Serve Man (1)

Guppy (12314) | about 9 months ago | (#45177465)

I'm quite sure that, some day, these things will be labeling us as food...

How very right you are, considering these things are bacteria (see: Decomposition).

Re:labeling food food (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176653)

I'm sure a lot of people will start flaming you for such a position.

However, look up the lawsuits by the pig farmers. There isn't enough non-gm food to feed the pigs and they have all but absolute conclusive proof that it *is* the gm food that is messing with their digestive systems and killing them.

Plenty of studies as well.

Considering that, there is no fucking way I want to eat gm food. It kills the food that I eat with the food they make. WTF?

Re:labeling food food (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45176735)

I haven't noticed a bacon shortage.

Have you?

Re:labeling food food (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 9 months ago | (#45177341)

they have all but absolute conclusive proof that it *is* the gm food that is messing with their digestive systems and killing them.

Plenty of studies as well

I'll bite.

Cite?

You FAIL it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176171)

BSD fanatics? I've risk looking even large - kkep your noises out of the MOVIE [imdb.com] Slashdot's that they can hold

whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 9 months ago | (#45176183)

Cool as hell, but I'm curious as to, well... why? And has anyone thought this through?

Okay, sounds alarmist, I know. That said, we're rapidly approachind a level in genetics where one fuckup in procedure or policy can have some really ugly repercussions. Not necessarily Resident Evil-scale ones, but possibly something fairly ugly in its own right.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176247)

What do you mean why... lets just go live in fireless caves so that we don't discover technologies that can be weaponized?

Re: whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 9 months ago | (#45176945)

We are not mature enough as culture, and the people with resources and power to produce and weaponize (or comercialize without enough/ignored testing, check tobacco) it could actually use it in big scale. That is a bad combo.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45176267)

Cool as hell, but I'm curious as to, well... why?

Why not? Human knowledge is expanded by trying new stuff.

And has anyone thought this through?

Yes. Worrying about this experiment causing grey goo [wikipedia.org] is about as silly as worrying that someone tinkering with their motorcycle might accidentally cause it to escape and survive in the wild.

On the other hand, I could be wrong.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | about 9 months ago | (#45176571)

Now you've done it, I'm afraid of servicing my own motorbike now. Thanks!

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 9 months ago | (#45177611)

Well, it couldn't cause "grey goo", as that's the result of run-amuck assemblers. But it might yield a plague that killed everyone who bit their fingernails. (Unless, of course, this is one of those strains of e. coli that's been so crippled that it can't live outside the lab. Even then ... does e. coli go in for gene swapping?)

Re: whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

potpie (706881) | about 9 months ago | (#45176293)

Well since the new codon requires the organism to interact with an artificial, human-supplied substance, this seems like a good way to keep manmade organisms in check. Sort of like the dinosaurs in jurassic park. Oh dear.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 9 months ago | (#45176333)

done this way custom code will be full of stop codons and custom ribosomes wil not stop one of the stop codons, sounds to me like this would be an safety improvement over current copypasta techniques since the compiler and the code are not compatible with natural code and natural compilers

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#45176365)

Cool as hell, but I'm curious as to, well... why? And has anyone thought this through?

It's the genetic equivalent of adding the Euro sign into your system fonts.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (2)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | about 9 months ago | (#45176549)

It's the genetic equivalent of adding the Euro sign into your system fonts.

That's actually a remarkably accurate analogy, if you add the Euro sign at ascii position 0x09 (aka ^I, aka HT) and modify your software (e.g. C compiler) to treat tabs as a normal character instead of whitespace.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 9 months ago | (#45176511)

You mean, editing a processor's microcode even though you don't have any documentation (because its manufacturer requires an evil NDA, etc) isn't cool?

Understanding how it works is also a step towards reverse engineering it, and I don't need to tell you what we could do if we fully reverse engineered cell machinery.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177333)

You mean, editing a processor's microcode even though you don't have any documentation (because its manufacturer requires an evil NDA, etc) isn't cool?

Understanding how it works is also a step towards reverse engineering it, and I don't need to tell you what we could do if we fully reverse engineered cell machinery.

Have you noticed that NDA and DNA are the same letters in another order? You think that's a coincidence?

Now ask yourself who "the manufacturer" is.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 9 months ago | (#45177595)

NDA [...]
Now ask yourself who "the manufacturer" is.

If you mean that bearded guy in the sky, not even his clergy give a damn about his laws anymore.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 9 months ago | (#45176555)

I don't see anything that could go wrong. What do you believe could go wrong with this?

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#45177061)

Your concern is part of why. They can make the organism entirely dependent on an amino acid that does not occur in nature and whose genetic code is incompatible with other organisms. If it escapes into the wild, it starves. If it trades genes with a wild organism, the gene fails (because it won't be transcribed correctly in the wild host). If it acquires a gene from a wild host, it also fails due to incorrect transcription. Because they re-purposed what is normally a stop codon, a wild bacterium would chop up any protein coded with it.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 9 months ago | (#45177649)

I'm not sure about:

If it trades genes with a wild organism, the gene fails (because it won't be transcribed correctly in the wild host)

as this sort of depends on whether the acquired gene contains the modified code.
P.S.: I think you meant
(because it won't be transcribed correctly in the modified host
as we are talking about the modifed host acquiring a wild gene.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#45177773)

I'm also talking about a wild host acquiring a modified gene. Neither host would correctly transcribe the other's genes. Since the whole point of the exercise is to use the codon with the altered meaning, I would presume an inserted gene would include it.

Genetics enthusiasts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176191)

Does this mean geneticists just figured out how to overclock cells?

Re:Genetics enthusiasts (2)

drkim (1559875) | about 9 months ago | (#45176353)

Does this mean geneticists just figured out how to overclock cells?

No. Just added custom instruction set.

Great (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 9 months ago | (#45176249)

Now I'm going to have to learn to program in DNA, and learn base 4. Thanks, biology! Oh well, I guess I'll probably get an anime cat-girl out of the bargain, so I'm not THAT pissed off.

Re:Great (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176377)

She will reject you just like real life girls do already, so don't get too excited.

this is amazing (1)

mikeabbott420 (744514) | about 9 months ago | (#45176285)

They are creating alien life, with the potential for organisms based on alternatives to the standard set of amino acids. I have no idea what all the implications of that will be.

Re:this is amazing (1)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 9 months ago | (#45176345)

No you use this to incorporate nonnatural amino acids into biological production within controlled growth cultures. This results in better usage of the available chemical space, and creation of degradation tolerant peptides. Pharma companies like this.

Re:this is amazing (1)

mikeabbott420 (744514) | about 9 months ago | (#45176429)

the growth culture contains things required for the transcription that aren't encoded in the organisms dna? that would be less scary and interesting.

Re:this is amazing (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 months ago | (#45176593)

the growth culture contains things required for the transcription that aren't encoded in the organisms dna?
that would be less scary and interesting.

Unless they additionally added genetic code to produce the extra amino acid (which I don't believe we'd currently be able to, but then, I'm no geneticist), from my understanding that's exactly what they did.

Welcome back to 10 years ago (5, Interesting)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 9 months ago | (#45176319)

Sheesz people, we've been rprogramming trna to use nonnatural amino acides for over 10 years now! Theres even a few companies st up that do just that. The principle of trna modification is old, just their method is new

Re:Welcome back to 10 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176405)

Or many millions years back if you look at nature. It's not like all live uses the same interpretation of DNA, there have always been differences (though of course not very widespread, as once your DNA -> amino mapping is too different from the mainstream, you can longer partake in horizontal gene transfers, which means you eventually stagnate and only keep to live in some niches).

Re:Welcome back to 10 years ago (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 months ago | (#45176617)

Actually it's very widespread, as the mitochondria in every cell use a slightly different genetic code than the cell itself. So it's spread to every single cell.

Re:Welcome back to 10 years ago (1)

kylemonger (686302) | about 9 months ago | (#45176937)

Great, except that instead of calming the paranoid naysayers, you've made them realize that you've been acting in secret for a decade and that they should be bomb the labs RIGHT NOW.

Re:Welcome back to 10 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45178013)

I think these non-natural amino-acids have made it into the spelling cortex of your brain over the last 10 years.

this is a big mistake (1)

tbonefrog (739501) | about 9 months ago | (#45176395)

I get tired of having to repeat this warning every time this idea is rediscovered, but those are NOT wasted codons, and this scheme could hardly fail to cause catastrophic consequences if it gets into the wild. Over the years people have been discovering there is less and less 'junk' DNA, and everything in the code has a meaning. The stop codons are in all probability different. and someone is going to say 'oops' in a few years, when we wipe out all or part of life on earth.

Re:this is a big mistake (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about 9 months ago | (#45176537)

and someone is going to say 'oops' in a few years, when we wipe out all or part of life on earth.

We're certainly not going to wipe out all life on earth. What we might do is change all life on earth. And as has always happened in the past, something newer and better will evolve to fill the vacuum. I, for one, am excited about the new future. Hopefully it will contain something better than humans.

Re:this is a big mistake (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 9 months ago | (#45176837)

New, certainly, but that's a tautology. Better? Always? What's your definition of "better"?

Re:this is a big mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176883)

Thanks for the clarification. You are only going to 'change' all life on earth. Phew!!! I am very relieved, and I hope you do a few centuries of testing before implementing this change to a multi billion year old system. In case there might be a bug or something. Or at least review the documentation. I now the temptation to be a billionaire sometimes leads to overly-short testing cycles, but it is not a mature way to operate, especially when there is only one known life-harboring planet.

Re:this is a big mistake (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 months ago | (#45176627)

Maybe you should have at least read and understood the summary before posting. This is not about junk DNA.

Re:this is a big mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176829)

Regarding the three stop codons as identical function is like considering two of the three codons to be 'junk'.

I disproved the notion that 'synonymous' codons were interchangeable, in 1990, just about the time 'bioinformatics' was being coined. What I disproved was the basis for Anfinsen's Nobel Prize.

Thanks for the correction. Maybe I will read the article someday.

Re:this is a big mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176629)

I get tired of having to repeat this warning every time this idea is rediscovered, but those are NOT wasted codons

Hi, God, there's always been some other things that I wanted to ask you about if you have a moment...

Re:this is a big mistake (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | about 9 months ago | (#45177437)

According to my understanding of the article referred to, not a scientific peer-reviewed paper, there is a unique protein in the medium which causes the new (formerly a stop) function to include it in the dna. I oversimplify my misunderstanding of the oversimplified article, I am sure, but it appears that the stops inserted (transferred, introduced, modified, substituted, whatever the term) will fail to result in viable "dna" without this unique protein. I imagine the protein acts as sort of a "password" for a successful reaction.

What do you think?

Would this make it safer?

Why is this special (1)

Phoeniyx (2751919) | about 9 months ago | (#45176417)

If I wrote a computer program to do this, it wouldn't be special. If I submitted an article to slashdot that described how I wrote a C++ program to do this, I would probably get hate mail and possible death threats by some techie loon somewhere in Texas. Why is this story special simply b/c the process was done in a different environment? If this was a story about a new technique to manipulate codon sequences, that would be one thing. But it is not.

Re:Why is this special (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 months ago | (#45176719)

If you managed to change the instruction set of your computer's CPU, I'm sure it would be Slashdot-worthy.

Re:Why is this special (1)

dkf (304284) | about 9 months ago | (#45177049)

If you managed to change the instruction set of your computer's CPU, I'm sure it would be Slashdot-worthy.

Reconfigurable hardware? That's been done for decades. You don't normally build a whole CPU that way because you don't get especially good gate density.

Re:Why is this special (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45177937)

...But also reconfigure all your software (as stored compiled on the disk) to work around the changed opcodes, and don't forget to also change any compressed executables and checksums. Then have your new operations interact directly with hardware you also designed, and do this all this work on a molecular scale, with no instruction manual.

That's Slashdot-worthy.

Re:Why is this special (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177539)

Go google microcode, read up on hardware implementations of the late 1950's, early 1960's and then come back and marvel at how stupid you were when you posted this.

Re:Why is this special (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 9 months ago | (#45177393)

Although it overlaps with previous work more than you would guess from the original post, it does extend the control scientists have over gene expression both in research and in manufacturing settings. That's worth an article in Science.

Mutants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176441)

I'm pretty sure this is eventually going to result in superpowers.

I, for one, welcome our new indestructable E Coli (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | about 9 months ago | (#45176445)

I had an overwhelming sense of dread when I read this (I never studied biology). Are we like like a bunch of five year olds playing with a loaded gun?

Re:I, for one, welcome our new indestructable E Co (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177559)

Go learn some biology and overcome your ignorance, or don't, the rest of us will move on without you either way. :-)

That might be a bad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45176487)

Considering what I know about standard programming, it's possible that all three of those "stops" as they're called may perform different functions. Removing one may cause buffer overflows or some other unwanted side effect.

Standard Language? (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 9 months ago | (#45176553)

I'm still looking for one via á vis programming.

Btw., last time I communicated with a bacterium
it drove me crazy singing "it;s a small world
after all". A drop of chlorine set me free.

missing tag: (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 9 months ago | (#45176767)

What could possibly go wrong?

Successors (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 9 months ago | (#45176795)

So we're busy creating successors for ourselves after we're done killing off our species and most others through global warming.

After all, it's not like we'll to worry about being around to compete with these new life forms.

We've already pretty much doomed ourselves, and we're not doing anything to even slow down the heat-death, much less correct the problem.

A grander plan (4, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about 9 months ago | (#45177125)

Some years ago, when Venter's synthetic genome bacteria was created, I came up with a plan to do this on a more extensive scale.
(1) Sequence the genome of a bacterium, and edit the genome (on computer) to use no codons ending in 'T" or "A". (The redundancy of the genetic code allows this.)
(2) Also edit genome so that it has tRNA for the codons ending T or A which entirely change their meanings (but still using the standard amino acids.) (Transfer RNA - tRNA - are the mechanism by which the codon code is decyphered to amino acids.)
(3) Synthesize the edited genome, and replace the genome of a living bacterium with it. Breed for a few generations, to check that all is well, and to eliminate any of the old tRNA.
(4) Edit the genome to use entirely the new codons. Also edit replacement tRNA for the remaining codons, ending G or C.
(5) Replace the genome of one of our modified bacteria with this one.

Result: a bacterium which has an entirely rewritten genetic code, and is incapable of reading the old code.

However, I don't think I was the first to think this all up. In any case, Science didn't accept my letter proposing it.

Re:A grander plan (3, Insightful)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 9 months ago | (#45177395)

However, I don't think I was the first to think this all up. In any case, Science didn't accept my letter proposing it.

That's probably because these things are much easier to think up than to do.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177135)

There are like 500 known amino acids in nature. There are 22 standard proteinogenic amino acids. The "standard language" is actually called genetic code 1, it's but one among dozens. The summary is plain awful.

And that's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177161)

how you breed Klingons........... I'm thirsty. Prune juice! Large!

stop all the anthropomorphising chemical reactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177285)

It "reads" this, and "provides instructions" and "telling it where to stop" and "giving it new meaning" and "whenever they spotted"

proteins don't read, they don't have a "rulebook" with "meanings", they don't decide or spot things

Where the fuck is the SCIENCE in this?

ok fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45177683)

Sure lets forge ahead. Lets make it a good thing to trade stocks faster than the other guy, instead of maing ita fair and level market. Lets worry about security less than getting to market, lets worry more about the NSA having our data than a bunch of multniational companies. i happen to think the internet has grown up enough that it needs government regulation before it starts doing things the people don't really want. tech is controlling us, not the other way around. Let's do crypto for 90% of the world of commerce based on unproven suppositions that are becoming more douubtful every month.

Yeah, get off my lawn too. Some high tech stuff at the hospital didn't work out as well as advertised six weeks ago and I'm having to process the consequences through my body, so I'll be a lot more cheerful in a few more months.

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