One of the major challenges in contemporary synthetic biology is to find a route to engineer synthetic organisms with altered chemical constitution. In terms of core reaction types, nature uses an astonishingly limited repertoire of chemistries when compared with the exceptionally rich and diverse methods of organic chemistry. In this context, the most promising route to change and expand the fundamental chemistry of life is the inclusion of amino acid building blocks beyond the canonical 20 (i.e. expanding the genetic code). This strategy would allow the transfer of numerous chemical functionalities and reactions from the synthetic laboratory into the cellular environment. Due to limitations in terms of both efficiency and practical applicability, state-of-the-art nonsense suppression- or frameshift suppression-based methods are less suitable for such engineering. Consequently, we set out to achieve this goal by sense codon emancipation, that is, liberation from its natural decoding function – a prerequisite for the reassignment of degenerate sense codons to a new 21st amino acid. We have achieved this by redesigning of several features of the post-transcriptional modification machinery which are directly involved in the decoding process. In particular, we report first steps towards the reassignment of 5797 AUA isoleucine codons in Escherichia coli using efficient tools for tRNA nucleotide modification pathway engineering.