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Reprogrammable DNA

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology and Harvard University have shown that it is possible to reprogram a DNA-based computer, Wired reports.

The team, led by Caltech's Erik Winfree, reports in Nature that it developed and validated a set of 355 DNA tiles that they could then reprogram into a range of six-bit algorithms. In particular, the team says it constructed 21 circuits that perform algorithms that copy, sort, elect a leader, and generate random patterns, among other tasks, with an error rate of less than 1 in 3,000. This, they add, suggests "molecular self-assembly could be a reliable algorithmic component within programmable chemical systems."

"This is one of the landmark papers in the field," Kent State University's Thorsten-Lars Schmidt, who was not involved in the research, tells Wired. "There was algorithmic self-assembly before, but not to this degree of complexity."

The Caltech and Harvard team further say that such algorithmic self-assembly should also be possible with other molecules like RNA and proteins, and Wired notes that this nanoscale assembly process could have a range of applications.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.