This picture shows the structure of a new synthetic DNA molecule, known as DNA hachimoji, which uses the four informative ingredients of regular DNA (green, red, blue, yellow) in addition to four new (fresh, pink, purple, orange). Credit: Indiana University School of Medicine
In an NASA-funded research analysis, scientists have synthesized a molecular system that, such as DNA, can store and transmit information. This unmatched sport suggests that there may be an alternative to DNA's life, as we know on Earth – a genetic system for life that could be possible in other worlds.
This new molecule system, which is not a new life format, suggests that scientists looking for life beyond Earth may need to reassure what they are looking for. The research appears in the Thursday edition of Science Magazine.
DNA is a complex molecule that stores and transmits genetic information, is passed from parent to mothers in every living organism on Earth, and its components include four key ingredients of the name nucleotides – all the standard for life as we know. But what about life on other worlds?
"Life-finding is an increasingly important goal of NASA planetary science trips, and this new work will help us to develop effective instruments and experiments that will broaden the scope of what we are looking for," said Lori Glaze, acting actor Is NASA Planning Science.
One way of imagining the types of foreign structures found on other worlds is trying to create something overseas on Earth. A team of researchers, led by Steven Benner at the Institute for Applied Molecular Evolution in Alachua, Florida, succeeded in creating a new molecular system known as DNA, except in one key area: The new molecule has eight information ingredients instead of four.
The synthetic DNA contains the four nucleotides that exist in the life of the Earth – adenin, cytosin, guanine and thymine – but also four others that imitate structures and unusual DNA information ingredients . The result is a double-helix structure that can store and transmit information.
Life-finding is an increasingly important goal of NASA planetary science trips, and this new work will help us to develop effective instruments and experiments that will broaden the scope of what we are looking for.
The Benner team, who worked with laboratories at the University of Texas in Austin, Indiana Medical School in Indianapolis, and DNA Software in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said their "DNA hachimoji" creature (from Japanese "hachi" 39; n means "eight," and "moji," which means "letter"). Hachimoji HNA meets all structural requirements that allow DNA to store, transmit and evolve information in living systems.
"By carefully analyzing the shape, size and structure of DNA hachimoji, this work broadens our understanding of the types of molecules that could store information in alien life in foreign countries," he said. Benner.
Scientists have much more to do about what other genetic systems could be the basis for life, and where exotic organisms could be found. However, this study opens the door to further investigate ways in which life could structure itself in environments that we consider are unsafe, but which may be similar to the forms of life that we have not yet & # 39; imagine it
"Embedding a wider understanding of what is possible in our instrument and mission design concepts will lead to more inclusive search and, therefore, more effectively for life beyond Earth," says Mary Voytek, senior scientist for Astrobiology at NASA Headquarters.
One of NASA's aims is to search for life on other planets such as Mars, where there was water flowing and a thick atmosphere, or the pictures of the external solar system such as Europa and Enceladus, where extensive water oceans hide under dense layers of ice. What if life on that world does not use our DNA? How can we recognize it? This new DNA could be the key to answering these questions and much more.
This work is also interested in those interested in information as part of life.
"The discovery that DNA with eight letters of nucleotide is suitable for the storage and transfer of information is a clear development in our knowledge of the range of possibilities needed for life," said Andrew Serazin, president of the Templeton World Charitable Foundation in Nassau, The Bahamas, who also supported this work. "This makes a huge contribution to the attempt supported by the Templeton World Charitable Foundation to understand the basic role that knowledge plays in physics and biology."
This research was supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program through the Exobiology Program. To learn more about the NASA Astrobiology Program, go to