A New Language for Life

All the beautiful, remarkable complexities of life that we see around us are, believe it or not, encoded at the most basic level by an alphabet just 5 letters long. The DNA code, which is shared by all life on Earth, is formed from molecules known as nucleotides which come in just four forms: Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine. RNA, the single-stranded cousin of DNA which is important in translating DNA into protein, adds a fifth letter – Uracil. It is truly one of the most impressive feats of evolution, that such a simple alphabet can generate such diversity and adaptation. However, recently scientists from The Scripps Research Institute, California have engineered a life form with an expanded vocabulary.

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