Xeno nucleic acid

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Xeno nucleic acid (XNA) is a synthetic alternative to the natural nucleic acids DNA and RNA as information-storing biopolymers that differs in the sugar backbone.[1] As of 2011, at least six types of synthetic sugars have been shown to form nucleic acid backbones that can store and retrieve genetic information. Research is now being done to create synthetic polymerases to transform XNA. The study of its production and application has created a field known as xenobiology.

Although the genetic information is still stored in the four canonical base pairs (unlike other nucleic acid analogues), natural DNA polymerases cannot read and duplicate this information. Thus the genetic information stored in XNA is “invisible” and therefore useless to natural DNA-based organisms.[2]


XNA exhibits a variety of structural chemical changes relative to its natural counterparts. Types of synthetic 'XNA' created so far include HNA, CeNA, TNA, GNA, LNA and PNA.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Markus Schmidt (9 May 2012). Synthetic Biology. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 151–. ISBN 978-3-527-65926-5. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Schmidt, Markus (April 2010). "Xenobiology: A new form of life as the ultimate biosafety tool". BioEssays (John Wiley & Sons) 32 (4): 322–331. doi:10.1002/bies.200900147. PMC 2909387. PMID 20217844.