The overwhelmingly homochiral nature of life has left a puzzle as to whether mirror-image biological systems based on a chirally inverted version of molecular machinery could also have existed. We show that two processes in the central dogma of molecular biology, the template-directed polymerization of DNA and transcription into RNA, can be catalyzed by a chemically synthesized D-amino acid polymerase on an L-DNA template. The establishment of such molecular systems with an opposite handedness is a small step towards chemically synthesizing an alternative, mirror-image form of life in the laboratory. It also highlights the potential to exploit enzymatically produced mirror-image biomolecules as research and therapeutic tools.
Ting Zhu received his B.E. in Engineering Mechanics from Tsinghua University, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, Ph.D. from the Harvard-MIT HST program (advisor: Dr. Jack W. Szostak), and postdoctoral training at MGH and MIT (advisors: Dr. Gary Ruvkun and Dr. Maria T. Zuber). He is currently a faculty member of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University. Visit his mirror-image para-universe by teleportation through an interdimensional wormhole (or the internet) at zhulab.life.tsinghua.edu.cn.