Hachimoji DNA and RNA: A genetic system with eight building blocks

Shuichi Hoshika, Nicole A. Leal, Myong Jung Kim, Myong Sang Kim, Nilesh B. Karalkar, Hyo Joong Kim, Alison M. Bates, Norman E. Watkins, Holly A. SantaLucia, Adam J. Meyer, Saurja DasGupta, Joseph A. Piccirilli, Andrew D. Ellington, John SantaLucia, Millie M. Georgiadis, Steven A. Benner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Scopus citations


We report DNA- and RNA-like systems built from eight nucleotide "letters" (hence the name "hachimoji") that form four orthogonal pairs. These synthetic systems meet the structural requirements needed to support Darwinian evolution, including a polyelectrolyte backbone, predictable thermodynamic stability, and stereoregular building blocks that fit a Schrödinger aperiodic crystal. Measured thermodynamic parameters predict the stability of hachimoji duplexes, allowing hachimoji DNA to increase the information density of natural terran DNA. Three crystal structures show that the synthetic building blocks do not perturb the aperiodic crystal seen in the DNA double helix. Hachimoji DNA was then transcribed to give hachimoji RNA in the form of a functioning fluorescent hachimoji aptamer. These results expand the scope of molecular structures that might support life, including life throughout the cosmos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)884-887
Number of pages4
Issue number6429
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    Hoshika, S., Leal, N. A., Kim, M. J., Kim, M. S., Karalkar, N. B., Kim, H. J., Bates, A. M., Watkins, N. E., SantaLucia, H. A., Meyer, A. J., DasGupta, S., Piccirilli, J. A., Ellington, A. D., SantaLucia, J., Georgiadis, M. M., & Benner, S. A. (2019). Hachimoji DNA and RNA: A genetic system with eight building blocks. Science, 363(6429), 884-887. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aat0971