The Genetic Code in the Age of Synthetic Biolog

by Dieter Söll (Yale)

Room E306, Arrhenius

Room E306, Arrhenius

At the time of its elucidation the genetic code was suggested to be universal in all organisms, and the result of a ‘frozen accident’ unable to evolve further. Today we know 22 natural amino acids: selenocysteine, the 21st, and pyrrolysine, the 22nd, are directly inserted into growing polypeptides during translation. The incorporation of selenocysteine directed by UGA requires the action of specific RNA and protein elements, a fact that has restricted engineering of selenoproteins. Based on the realization that protein plasticity is a feature of living cells, man‐made expansion of the genetic code based on orthogonal translation systems (OTSs) is an active research field. Although the design of in vivo specific and highly active OTS systems is still not ideal, the increasing number of successful recoding strategies promises a bright future for genetic code expansion.