Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis is a process by which copies of nucleic acid strands are made. In nature, DNA synthesis takes place in cells by a mechanism known as DNA replication. Using genetic engineering and enzyme chemistry, scientists have developed man-made methods for synthesizing DNA. The most important of these is poly-merase chain reaction (PCR). First developed in the early 1980s, PCR has become a multi-billion dollar industry with the original patent being sold for $300 million dollars.
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DNA synthesis is the natural or artificial creation of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules. The term DNA synthesis can refer to any of the following in various contexts:
- DNA replication – DNA biosynthesis (in vivo DNA amplification)
- Polymerase chain reaction – enzymatic DNA synthesis (in vitro DNA amplification)
- Gene synthesis – physically creating artificial gene sequences
In nature, such molecules are created by all living cells through the process of DNA replication, with replication initiator proteins splitting the existing DNA of the cell and making a copy of each split strand, with the copied strands then being joined together with their template strand into a new DNA molecule. Various means also exist to artificially stimulate the replication of naturally occurring DNA, or to create artificial gene sequences.
Polymerase chain reaction
Artificial gene synthesis is the process of synthesizing a gene in vitro without the need for initial template DNA samples. In 2010 J. Craig Venter and his team were the first to use entirely synthesized DNA to create a self-replicating microbe, dubbed Mycoplasma laboratorium.
Oligonucleotide synthesis is the chemical synthesis of sequences of nucleic acids. The process has been fully automated since the late 1970s and can be used to form desired genetic sequences as well as for other uses in medicine and molecular biology.
Base pair synthesis
Recent research has demonstrated the possibility of creating new nucleobase pairs in addition to the naturally occurring pairs, A-T (adenine – thymine) and G-C (guanine –cytosine). A third base pair could dramatically expand the number of amino acids that can be encoded by DNA, from the existing 20 amino acids to a theoretically possible 172.
- Fikes, Bradley J. (May 8, 2014). “Life engineered with expanded genetic code”. San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 8 May 2014.