A new technique that can store information in DNA, known as DOMINO, has been successfully developed by researchers at MIT. 

The future of biotechnology and biodata requires an effective method to store information in DNA. Just like a hard drive, the information should be readable, writable and able to be edited. Writable DNA information can be used as a ‘computational code’ for cells to give scientists control over cells internal processes and create a ‘memory’ to record the cell’s activities. A new technique known as DNA-based Ordered Memory and Iteration Network Operator (DOMINO) could be the key to achieving this.

The DOMINO technique uses a ‘read-write head’ that can precisely alter individual DNA bases using CRISPR. The ‘read-write head’ contains Cas9 nicase, which is directed by a guide RNA molecule to a specific DNA target, cytidine deaminase (CDA) and uracil glycosylase inhibitor. CDA can edit the DNA by changing a C base to a T base or a G base to an A base. The uracil glycolase inhibitor prevents the cell from trying to repair the DNA and reverse the mutation.

The DNA writing can be controlled by external inputs. For instance, if the cell is exposed to two stimuli A and B which can either be activated at the same time or activated in either order with a delay between them, the DOMINO system can record which stimuli was used and the time of the delay, if any, between the two stimuli.

It is clear that DOMINO has a huge range of applications across data storage and biotechnology.

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