Why it Matters That Scientists Just Encoded Horse GIFs Into Bacteria

Why it Matters That Scientists Just Encoded Horse GIFs Into Bacteria

However, the researchers were not really interested to see if they could store anything on living DNS but rather to figure out if they could transform the cells into sensors which can record information on the processes that happen inside of those cells.

A study funded by the National Institute of Health, US, has for the first time encoded a primitive movie in the DNA of living bacteria cells that replayed it, using CRISPR technology.

Usually those DNA chunks contain information about the cell - but researchers created new sequences that corresponded to pixels on an image of a horse galloping.

Scientists have played back a movie encoded in the DNA of living cells, a first.

For their experiments, the team from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, used an image of a human hand and five frames of the horse Annie G captured in the late 19th Century by the British photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge.

While realizing this new concept of molecular recording, Shipman together with second-author Jeff Nivala, a research fellow in genetics at HMS, identified a valuable set of requirements in their analysis that make spacer sequences likely to be more easily acquired and defined sequence features that prevent their acquisition into growing CRISPR arrays-the do's and don'ts of spacer design. The scientists at the New York Genome Center (NYGC) encoded then retrieved without errors a full computer operating system, an 1895 French film, "Arrival of a train at La Ciotat", a $50 Amazon gift card, a computer virus, a Pioneer plaque and a 1948 study by information theorist Claude Shannon. Imagine what progress neuroscience could see, for instance, if scientists could record all the molecular events that a neuron undergoes during the course of its lifetime. Instead of trying to observe brain cells through imaging techniques or via surgery, these molecular recorders would collect data over time from every cell in the brain, which could then be decoded by researchers.

The team then similarly translated five frames from the race horse in motion photo sequence into DNA. The bugs treated the strips of DNA like invading viruses and dutifully added them to their own genomes.

DNA encodes what is arguably the most important data in existence: the instructions for life. This in case, the images were transferred into E.coli bacteria. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. They attach it to a bit of code that can direct it to any spot in organism's genome, and there it makes a cut, or edit. Because of that skill, the Cas enzymes-particularly Cas9-have become the tool of choice for scientists who do gene editing. The vast chains of DNA in each cell are made of just four molecules - adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine - arranged in enormously varied configurations. Then, they put their DNA into the E. coli cells using electricity.

Anti-Crispr proteins stop Crispr-Cas9 from working, by mimicking DNA, and effectively tricking Crispr-Cas9 into binding with it, and then never letting go.

CRISPR is a group of DNA and proteins that acts as an immune system to a number of bacteria, vaccinating them with the genetic memories of viral infections. That was long before the molecular-biology revolution, and decades before anyone could sequence DNA - much less edit it. But the new method of using live bacteria opens the door to exciting possibilities.