Reprogramming mitochondrial translation for unnatural polymer synthesis
We are interested in redesigning the processes of DNA replication, responsible for propagating and driving the evolution of genetic information, and translation, responsible for reading genetic information into functional proteins. If we are successful, we will be able to endow cells with fundamentally new capabilities, most ambitious of which will be the accelerated evolution of biological function based on unnatural polymers. This would lead to the discovery and production of new useful biomaterials and drugs, and allow us to study natural biological systems in new ways. Unfortunately, cells do not tolerate changes to the processes of DNA replication and translation, because all genes of a cell’s genome rely on the exquisitely tuned properties of replication and translation. This poster describes our efforts to engineer cells that have second versions of replication and translation systems, ones that only act on custom genetic information but not on the cell’s nuclear genome. These second systems, which we refer to as orthogonal, are now free for redesign.
Arnold O. Beckman exemplifies the meaning of the word humanitarian. Combined with his unwavering enthusiasm for life, his keen sense of humor and his strong moral and ethical principles, he is a national icon.