Programme Leader, Professor
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, cambridge
Our lab has pioneered the development and application of methods for reprogramming the genetic code of living organisms. These approaches allow the site specific incorporation of designer unnatural amino acids, beyond the canonical 20, into proteins in diverse cells and organisms.
A fundamental challenge in reprogramming the genetic code of cells is to direct the incorporation of unnatural amino acids into proteins. We have shown that it is possible to create an orthogonal translation pathway in the cell in which a new ribosome, the orthogonal ribosome, is directed to a new message. Since the orthogonal ribosome, unlike the natural ribosome, is not essential it is possible to evolve the orthogonal ribosome to read new genetic codes on the orthogonal message. We have created a ribosome that efficiently reads quadruplet codons and amber codons, that are inefficiently read on the natural ribosome.