Rewriting the genetic code through aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase engineering

Abstract

The natural genetic code, bar some exceptions, is universal. Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRS) enforce the code by creating the link between RNA and protein sequences by charging precise sets of tRNAs with specific amino acids. However, that link can be rewritten by altering the substrate specificity of aaRSs. An alternative viable genetic code could be used to engineer safer GMOs that are unable to contaminate the environment with engineered traits. The project will focus on developing the methodology for the directed evolution of tRNA synthetases in vitro and on establishing simple in vivo platforms for testing and optimising the engineered synthetases.

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References:
[1]

Chatterjee A, Xiao H, & Schultz PG (2012) Evolution of multiple, mutually orthogonal prolyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNA pairs for unnatural amino acid mutagenesis in Escherichia coli. PNAS 109(37):14841-14846.

[2]

Pinheiro VB, et al. (2012) Synthetic genetic polymers capable of heredity and evolution. Science 336(6079):341-344

[3]

Lajoie MJ, et al. (2013) Genomically recoded organisms expand biological functions. Science 342(6156):357-360.


Biological Areas:

Biotechnology

BBSRC Area:

Genes, development and STEM approaches to biology