Unnatural base pair systems toward the expansion of the genetic alphabet in the central dogma

Proc Jpn Acad Ser B Phys Biol Sci. 2012;88(7):345-67. doi: 10.2183/pjab.88.345.


Toward the expansion of the genetic alphabet of DNA, several artificial third base pairs (unnatural base pairs) have been created. Synthetic DNAs containing the unnatural base pairs can be amplified faithfully by PCR, along with the natural A-T and G-C pairs, and transcribed into RNA. The unnatural base pair systems now have high potential to open the door to next generation biotechnology. The creation of unnatural base pairs is a consequence of repeating "proof of concept" experiments. In the process, initially designed base pairs were modified to address their weak points. Some of them were artificially evolved to ones with higher efficiency and selectivity in polymerase reactions, while others were eliminated from the analysis. Here, we describe the process of unnatural base pair development, as well as the tests of their applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Base Pairing / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Genetic Code / genetics*
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Molecular Sequence Data