News Brief- Weird Life

Diagram of XNA molecule by Martin Laksman.
Date:20 August 2012 Tags:, , , ,

Every living thing on earth uses DNA or RNA to carry its instructions for life. These two nucleic acids are built from different sugars: DNA from deoxyribose and RNA from ribose. Now scientists have shown that at least six other types of sugars can form nucleic acid backbones – and they can be used to store and retrieve genetic information. Called XNAs (for xeno-nucleic acids), the new synthetic chains could address important questions about the origin of life. John Chaput, a team member and molecular biologist at Arizona State University, poses an even more tantalising one. “Could you create synthetic life with it?” he asks. “That’s possible, but it’s much further down the road.”