Scientists Use CRISPR to Store Data in DNA

In a paper published in Nature Chemical Biology, researchers described how they used CRISPR sequences to store data in DNA in a way that could preserve the integrity of the data over generations,

DNA has been the predominant information storage medium for biology and holds great promise as a next-generation high-density data medium in the digital era. Currently, the vast majority of DNA-based data storage approaches rely on in vitro DNA synthesis. As such, there are limited methods to encode digital data into the chromosomes of living cells in a single step. Here, we describe a new electrogenetic framework for direct storage of digital data in living cells. Using an engineered redox-responsive CRISPR adaptation system, we encoded binary data in 3-bit units into CRISPR arrays of bacterial cells by electrical stimulation. We demonstrate multiplex data encoding into barcoded cell populations to yield meaningful information storage and capacity up to 72?bits, which can be maintained over many generations in natural open environments. This work establishes a direct digital-to-biological data storage framework and advances our capacity for information exchange between silicon- and carbon-based entities.

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