The editing of genes will turn the cells into flash drives
The ability to record information in DNA and retrieving it later using editing technology CRISPR genes biologists demonstrated on the example of the intestinal bacteria E. coli. Thus, the researchers conclude, the DNA of a cell can function as a kind of memory cards. Until the technology is at an early stage of development, but it is now clear that she has a bright future.
Researchers from Harvard medical school (USA) have used the technology of CRISPR-Cas for image coding in the genome of the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli). Scientists were able to record and play them back at static and moving images (animation).
The team of biologists used the opportunity to capture DNA fragments from invading viruses and store them in an organized array in the genome of the host. Researchers have developed a system of building fragments so that they correspond to the image pixels.
Biologists have encoded each pixel and outlined its position on the image using the 33 letters of the DNA. Each frame of the animated image of the future consisted of 104 of such DNA fragments. The researchers injected DNA into E.
Coli at a speed of one frame a day for five days. Then they streamlined CRISPR sites in a population of bacteria to recover the image. Since the CRISPR system sequentially adds the DNA fragments, the position of each fragment in the array may be used to determine the source of the frame, to which belonged a fragment. As a result, scientists got a static image of the palm and the animated image of a galloping horse.
Of course, while the system is far from perfect and not allows you to quickly record large amounts of information. Moreover, while no experiments that would allow to record information in mammalian cells. Bacteria can make millions of copies of DNA and, theoretically, to keep the information indefinitely.
DNA can also carry a unique identifier indicating, for example, on the origin of the strain and its characteristics. It can serve as a kind of "genetic passport" or be used for exotic purposes, such as the time capsule or the original means of interstellar communication. Just put the bacteria isolated in culture medium and send to the neighboring stars. Maybe someone can decipher the original message. Technology is of great practical importance, and research in this direction will be continued.