Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Make a Computer from a Living Cell

How to Make a Computer from a Living Cell: The Stanford researchers’ genetic logic gate can be used to perform the full complement of digital logic tasks, and it can store information, too. It works by making changes to the cell’s genome, creating a kind of transcript of the cell’s activities that can be read out later with a DNA sequencer...

The transcriptor triggers the production of enzymes that cause alterations in the cell’s genome. When the production of those enzymes is triggered by the signal—a protein of interest, for example—these enzymes will delete or invert a particular stretch of DNA in the genome. Researchers can code the transcriptor to respond to one, or multiple, different such signals. The signal can be amplified because one change in the cell’s DNA can lead the cell to produce a large amount of the output protein over time.

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