SCRIBE Enables Distributed Genomically Encoded Memory

MIT engineers have transformed the genome of the bacterium E. coli into a long-term storage device for memory. SCRIBE (Synthetic Cellular Recorders Integrating Biological Events ) is a scalable platform that uses genomic DNA for analog, rewritable, and flexible memory distributed across living cell populations. They envision that this stable, erasable, and easy-to-retrieve memory will be well suited for applications such as sensors for environmental and medical monitoring.

“You can store very long-term information,” says Timothy Lu, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and biological engineering. “You could imagine having this system in a bacterium that lives in your gut, or environmental bacteria. You could put this out for days or months, and then come back later and see what happened at a quantitative level.”The new strategy, described in the Nov. 13, 2014 issue of the journal Science ("Genomically encoded analog memory with precise in vivo DNA writing in living cell populations"), overcomes several limitations of existing methods for storing memory in bacterial genomes, says Lu, the paper’s senior author. Those methods require a large number of genetic regulatory elements, limiting the amount of information that can be stored.The earlier efforts are also limited to digital memory, meaning that they can record only all-or-nothing memories, such as whether a particular event occurred. Lu and graduate student Fahim Farzadfard, the paper’s lead author, set out to create a system for storing analog memory, which can reveal how much exposure there was, or how long it lasted. To achieve that, they designed a “genomic tape recorder” that lets researchers write new information into any bacterial DNA sequence.

The researchers showed that SCRIBE enables the recording of arbitrary transcriptional inputs into DNA storage registers in living cells by translating regulatory signals into ssDNAs. In E. coli, they expressed ssDNAs from engineered retrons that use a reverse transcriptase protein to produce hybrid RNA-ssDNA molecules. These intracellularly expressed ssDNAs are targeted into specific genomic loci where they are recombined and converted into permanent memory. The team could show that genomically stored information can be readily reprogrammed by changing the ssDNA template and controlled via both chemical and light inputs. This demonstrates that genomically encoded memory can be read with a variety of techniques, including reporter genes, functional assays, and high-throughput DNA sequencing.

SCRIBE enables the recording of analog information such as the magnitude and time span of exposure to an input. This convenient feature is facilitated by the intermediate recombination rate of our current system (~10–4 recombination events per generation), which we validated via a mathematical model and computer simulations. For example, the scientists stored the overall exposure time to chemical inducers in the DNA memory of bacterial populations for 12 days (~120 generations), independently of the induction pattern. The frequency of mutants in these populations was linearly related to the total exposure time.

The idea that DNA could be used to store information is an idea that is long familiar to sf readers. Fantasy writer Barbara Hambly uses a similar idea in her 1982 Darwath trilogy. She describes how wizards succeeded in tying information to the DNA of selected individuals.

In the story, several people from 1980's California find themselves transported across the Void to another planet and the Realm of Darwath. They face a deadly species of queerly magical beings - the Dark - who destroyed civilization thousands of years ago. Everything that was made of paper (like books and records) were burned to stave off attacks by the Dark. Tying memories to a few suitable bloodlines was the only way to preserve a record of that period that would endure.

Via Scoop.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/18/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Data Storage ")

DataTraveler Ultimate Generation 2 Terabyte Flashdrive
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary data spheres...' - Dan Simmons, 1989.

Sandisk 1 Terabyte SD Memory Card Surfaces
'They should be Welton Fine-Grains, or they would be too bulky to ship...' - Robert Heinlein, 1973.

Data Crystals Offer Eternal Storage
'The books were crystals with recorded contents...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1961.

Storing 1 Zettabyte In 10 Grams
'It is theoretically possible to have a matrix in which each individual molecule has a meaning...'- Robert Heinlein, 1951.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

3D Skin Printer Helps Burn Victims
'Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm...'

Tesla Autopilot's 40 Percent Crash Reduction
''I hope all those other cars are on automatic,' he said anxiously.'

Pent-Up NASA Scientists Simulate Life On Mars
'That gives it complete isolation.'

China Now Has Robot Journalists
'A vast complex electronic organism buried deep in the ground, responsible to no one...'

Relationship-Practicing Robot From Turing Robot
'Streamlined, smooth-working, absolutely noiseless, breath-takingly realistic.'

Cormorant Flying Car
'The cab came floating down out of the sky...'

ElliQ Robot To Help Israel's Grandmas And Grandpas
'The robant and the tiny old woman entered the control room slowly...'

EU Debates Kill Switches For Robots
'I have a mechanism which our autofac on Mars builds as an... emergency safety...'

Scotland Set To Implement Basic Income
'Earned by just being born.'

Sales Robots More Persistent Than Humans
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing,,, shrilling...'

AI Identifies Suicidal Behavior With 93 Percent Accuracy
'...He padded into the living room, and seated himself by the suitcase; he opened it, clicked switches, and turned on Dr. Smile.'

Razer Project Valerie Laptop Unfurls
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently...'

Can Virtual Reality help People Cope With Pain?
Research is promising.

Dust Movement On The Moon, Saturn's Rings Solved
'...The dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge.'

Largest Micro-Drone Swarm Release Successful
'... Programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern.'

Robot Motion Planning 10K Times Faster
'The robot crab... fired a burst of light, then froze...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.