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DNA Typewriter Taps Out a Record Inside Cells

The idea to use DNA to encode information piggybacks on the molecule’s natural function. Just as computer software is written in 1s and 0s, the DNA molecule uses a four-letter code for the instructions for living things.


Researchers at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have developed a DNA typewriter that can encode text in cells.

The researchers chose to encode messages with historical significance, including quotes from Samuel F.B. Morse’s first long-distance telegraph transmission and Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone call, as well as a lyric translated from a Korean pop song.

Said HHMI's Jay Shendure, "We have accomplished something that's analogous to writing. We can create thousands of symbols, which we call barcodes, and we can capture them in order."

The DNA typewriter can accommodate up 4,096 barcodes (short pieces of DNA), placing them one at a time from left to right.

The researchers were able to track cell division by tagging dividing cells with barcodes.

From Howard Hughes Medical Institute News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2022 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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