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NUCLEIC ACIDS

Curtailing their negativity

The longstanding ‘polyelectrolyte theory of the gene’ proposes that a multiply charged backbone is the universal signature of all genetic polymer systems that support life. Now, the first tenable challenge to this theory has been mounted, through the successful engineering of enzymes which can synthesize and reverse-transcribe from an artificial, uncharged nucleic acid analogue.

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Correspondence to Tom Brown.

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Fig. 1: The new, uncharged phNA genetic polymer system.

Panels (a) and (c), ref. 5, Springer Nature Ltd