Efficient and sequence-independent replication of DNA containing a third base pair establishes a functional six-letter genetic alphabet

Department of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 07/2012; 109(30):12005-10. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1205176109
Source: PubMed


The natural four-letter genetic alphabet, comprised of just two base pairs (dA-dT and dG-dC), is conserved throughout all life, and its expansion by the development of a third, unnatural base pair has emerged as a central goal of chemical and synthetic biology. We recently developed a class of candidate unnatural base pairs, exemplified by the pair formed between d5SICS and dNaM. Here, we examine the PCR amplification of DNA containing one or more d5SICS-dNaM pairs in a wide variety of sequence contexts. Under standard conditions, we show that this DNA may be amplified with high efficiency and greater than 99.9% fidelity. To more rigorously explore potential sequence effects, we used deep sequencing to characterize a library of templates containing the unnatural base pair as a function of amplification. We found that the unnatural base pair is efficiently replicated with high fidelity in virtually all sequence contexts. The results show that, for PCR and PCR-based applications, d5SICS-dNaM is functionally equivalent to a natural base pair, and when combined with dA-dT and dG-dC, it provides a fully functional six-letter genetic alphabet.

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