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Back and Forth

In a new study in PNAS, Stanford University's Jerome Bonnet, Pakpoom Subsoontorn, and Drew Endy say they've found a way to control bacterial genes, reports Scientific American's Ferris Jabr at the Observations blog. The team engineered E. coli to contain genes for both red and green fluorescent proteins, and they inserted an enzyme adapted from a bacteriophage to help them manipulate which colors the bacteria would display when exposed to ultraviolet light.

However in earlier work, the team found that they could flip the bacteria's switch only once. They have since found that by flooding the bacterial cells with either antibiotics or sugar molecules, they could activate different transcription factors and flip the promoter switch back and forth to produce either red or green light — it is a "rewriteable" way to store data in a cell, Jabr says.

"By replacing the genes for red and green fluorescent proteins with whatever genes they want to study — and subsequently flipping the RAD module promoter back and forth — other researchers can precisely control genes of interest," he adds.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.