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Biotech United Kingdom Science

Scientists Modify Organism With Artificial Amino Acid 149

IndigoDarkwolf writes "The Beeb reports that biologists Sebastian Greiss and Jason Chin have genetically modified a multicellular organism (Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny worm) to combine an amino acid not found in nature into a custom-built protein. The protein created by their genetically-modified worm contained a dye which glows when exposed to UV light. While previous work showed that genetic modification could incorporate non-natural amino acids into custom proteins for single-celled organisms, this is the first time an entire animal has been modified."
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Scientists Modify Organism With Artificial Amino Acid

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  • Re:Prior art? (Score:5, Informative)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:38PM (#37064260)
    The breakthrough here is not artificial biological fluorescence, which has been around for a long time. The breakthrough is also not that this is a fluorescent amino acid (as opposed to full proteins made up of many amino acids, like GFP, which is again what you're talking about), evidently those have been demonstrated for a few years. This is tricking an organism into -using- an artificial amino acid, a fluorescent one.

    Being able to incorporate fluorescent amino acids into a protein -looks- pretty striking, but people have been able to get cells to attach a fluorescent protein onto other proteins for years. The fluorescence here was just an easy assay to tell if they had gotten the c elegans to use a different, entirely artificial building block. Fluorescent amino acids may turn out to be the biggest use for this discovery, but the real story here is that we have a new tool, not that the tool can be used to make organisms glow.

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