What if Craig Ventor got a hold of the epigenome during his quest to create synthetic life? Is humanity be ready for an artificial life-form potentially as complex as its creators? Will Duck Dynasty and Honey Boo Boo be picked up for another season? These are all very important questions. And a few of our Chemist brethren at Ludwig Maximilian University have opened the door to answering at least some of them by revealing a method of synthesizing DNA bases, including specific modifications, that will allow for more detailed studies of epigeneitc marks.
We’ve learned a lot about how the marks are made in vivo but we’ve always been a bit behind on the in chemistry. Here’s what went down:
- The team created a 5-formyl-2’-deoxycytidine phosphoramidite building block synthesis system capable of generating cytosine bases.
- This system was used in combination with modular building blocks to synthesize all of the different possible cytosine modifications (5mC, 5hmC, 5caC, and 5fC) .
- To put the icing on the cake, the group then whipped up a promoter (Oct4) that contained all four epigenetic bases.
The talented German crew concludes that “it is now possible to synthesize oligonucleotides that contain all four epigenetically important cytidine nucleosides.” Ultimately they believe that this will help “pave the way for a more detailed analysis of how these nucleosides influence biological processes and stem-cell development.” We think this is one technological advancement that epigenetics researchers will be itching to put to good use.
Synthesize a new perspective over at Angewandte Chemie International Edition, December 2013