MIT crafts genetic circuits that remember their work through DNA

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Jon Fingas
February 12th, 2013
In this article: cell, circuit, dna, enzyme, genetics, minipost, mit
MIT crafts genetic circuits that remember their work through DNA

It's easy to find work on gene-based storage; finding genes that will do any of the heavy lifting is another matter. MIT believes it has a genetic circuit that will finally get to work, and then some. In using recombinase enzymes to alter DNA sequences serving as logic gates, researchers have developed a cellular circuit that not only mimics its silicon cousins, but has its own built-in memory. As the gate activation makes permanent changes to a given DNA sequence, any gate actions stay in memory for up to 90 generations -- and will hang around even if the cell's life is cut short. MIT sees its technique as having ultimate uses for areas where longer-term memory is important, such as environmental sensors, but could also see varying output values helping with digital-to-analog converters and other devices where there's a need for more precision. While there's no word on imminent plans for real-world use, the development raises the possibility of processors that could skip the traditional memory cache as they pass info down the family tree.

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