Biotech Updates

Scientists Redesign Organism's Entire Genome

October 23, 2013

A research breakthrough by scientists from Yale and Harvard Universities may bring tremendous implications in science and could open entirely new avenues for research and applications in modern biotechnology. In the new study, the researchers working with E. coli swapped a codon and eliminated its natural stop sign that terminates protein production.

Proteins, which are encoded by DNA's instructional manual and are made up of 20 amino acids, carry out many important functional roles in the cell. Amino acids are encoded by the full set of 64 triplet combinations of the four nucleic acids that comprise the backbone of DNA. These triplets (sets of three nucleotides) are called codons and are the genetic alphabet of life.

The new genome of E. coli enabled the bacteria to resist viral infection by limiting production of natural proteins used by viruses to infect cells. The researchers then converted the "stop" codon into one that encodes new amino acids and inserted it into the genome in a plug-and-play fashion.

See Yale University's news release at