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Genetic code expansion in vivo: making proteins with novel properties

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The genetic code is the system by which all the information needed for the growth, living and reproducing of an organism is stored in the DNA . The process of how the information is transferred from the DNA into proteins has been the interest of a constantly growing number of scientists for the past few decades. In recent years a quite detailed understanding of the strategy all the living being use to extract this information from the genetic material and translate it into proteins, and ultimately into organisms, has allowed to develop novel biotechnologies. One examples of a new biotechnology is genetic code expansion, by which a it is possible to assign novel meaning to the genetic material and to introduce novel synthetic molecules into proteins. Genetic code expansion has been used recently in order to incorporate novel non-canonical synthetic amino acid into proteins. It allows to give proteins novel properties that can greatly help our study of biologically relevant processes and at the same time open many novel possibilities in the biomedical field. In the past years we succeeded in incorporating non-canonical amino acids in a variety or organisms, starting from the simple bacteria and moving on to higher level of complexity, to yeast, cultured mammalian cells and whole organisms, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Science Seminars series.

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