Cue the alien genetics conspiracy theory narratives…
First life with ‘alien’ DNA (Nature):
Scientists have created the first organism with synthetic DNA that can replicate in a cell, an achievement that promises to add new letters to the genetic code underlying life on Earth.
In the natural world, just two chemical base pairs, known simply as A-T and C-G, constitute the building blocks of DNA in all life forms. Research published Wednesday in the journal Nature describes the creation of a cell that contains a man-made base pair, dubbed d5SICS-dNAM.
As a proof of concept, the group has created a synthetic base pair and added it to the DNA of an E. coli cell. Furthermore, the new base pair copied correctly when the cell replicated.
The paper (paywalled) is published in Nature, and provides details about the first organism to “propagate stably an expanded genetic alphabet.” According to the Nature news release, “[t]he alien E. coli contains just a single pair of foreign DNA bases out of millions,” but there is not necessarily a limit on what percentage of foreign DNA (of the organism) is achievable.
Potential applications include protein-based medication delivery, or synthesis of proteins that handle chores within the body, the Washington Post reports.