Scientists Code An Animated GIF Into DNA

Scientists Code An Animated GIF Into DNA

The promise of using DNA as storage means you could conceivably save every photo you've ever taken, your entire iTunes library, and all 839 episodes of Doctor Who in a tiny molecule invisible to the naked eye-with plenty of room to spare.

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

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (5R01MH103910), the National Human Genome Research Institute (5P50HG005550), Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (5R01NS045523), Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, and Wyss Institute.

Researchers encoded the video on the left into living cells, then retrieved the data via DNA sequencing, retrieving the copy on the right. This in case, the images were transferred into E.coli bacteria. Researchers then sequenced the genes of those cells and were able to reconstruct the image with 90 percent accuracy. That's because it contains the instructions needed for an organism to grow, develop, survive and reproduce. The by-now famous CRISPR/Cas9 protein constantly resorts to this memory to destroy the same viruses when they return. They chose target areas of the bacterial genome that wouldn't affect the microbe, and the E. coli appeared unperturbed after the "operation": it happily ate, and wriggled around as it normally would for "as long as we let them", according to Shipman. "Here, the authors use low-cost DNA synthesis and genome editing tools to put the information from pictures and movies into the genome of a living cell".

"We want to turn cells into historians", said Seth Shipman, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in the US.

Dr Shin studied human cells in culture, delivering Crispr-Cas9, and then several hours late, the anti-Crispr protein.

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. Sontheimer was not involved in the study, but he is a cofounder of Intellia Therapeutics, alongside study coauthor Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and the company is using an anti-CRISPR protein that Sontheimer co-discovered (not AcrIIA4).

The researchers had previously shown that they could use CRISPR to store sequences of DNA in bacteria.

Over the course of five days, they sequentially treated bacteria with a frame of translated DNA.

Jacob Corn, one of the first authors on the study, said: 'The ability to turn Cas9 gene editing off is just as important as the ability to turn it on. Crucially, these proteins add the DNA in the order it is encountered, meaning the scientists could feed the E.Coli synthetic strands of DNA, specially designed with sequential information - which can then be decoded and turned into a picture, or a series of frames in an animation. Next, he and his team will try to show that they can record and decode information from the cell itself. "We don't really understand why that is", he says.

"We want to use neurons to record a molecular history of the brain through development", said Shipman.