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Z Genome in Bacteria Invading Viruses

All the living creatures have DNA molecules using a four-letter genetic alphabet. Some Bacteria Invading Viruses carry around DNA with a different letter — Z — that may help them survive. The new show is much more widespread than previously thought. This was published in the journal Science.

A series of the new study describes how this strange chemical letter enters into viral DNA, and researchers have now demonstrated that the “Z-genome” is much more widespread in Bacteria Invading Viruses across the globe and may have even evolved to help the pathogens survive the hot, harsh conditions of our early planet.

DNA is made up of the same four-letter alphabet of chemical compounds known as nucleotides. Those four-letter alphabets are Guanine (G), cytosine (C), thymine (T) and adenine (A). A DNA molecule consists of two strands of these chemicals that are tied together into a double-helix shape. DNA’s alphabet is the same whether it’s coding for frogs, humans or the plant by the window, but the instructions are different. The molecule RNA uses almost the same alphabet but uses uracil (U) instead of thymine.In 1977, a group of scientists in Russia first discovered a cyanophage or a virus that invades a group of bacteria known as cyanobacteria. It has substituted all of its Adenines for the chemical 2-aminoadenine (Z).

In the late 1980s, researchers found that this Z nucleotide gave the virus some advantages: it was more stable at higher temperatures, it helped one strand of DNA bind more accurately to the second strand of DNA after replication and Z-DNA could resist certain proteins present in bacteria that would normally destroy viral DNA.

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