Gamov's conclusion that three DNA bases link to one amino acid, Marshall Nirenberg
Interviewee: Marshall Nirenberg. George Gamow was a physicist who became interested in biology after reading Watson and Crick's 1953 paper on DNA structure. Marshall Nirenberg talks about Gamow's theories on the code. (DNAi Location: Code > Reading the code > Players > Marshall Nirenberg > A possible code)
He told me that he went down to his driveway to the mailbox to pick up the mail, and picked up that issue of Nature that contained Watson and Crick's article on the helical nature of DNA. And he read it while he was standing at the mailbox with one arm on the mailbox, and immediately thought that three bases in DNA corresponded to one amino acid, there are four kinds of bases in DNA, twenty kinds of amino acids in protein. And so, taking them three at a time there are 64 possible combinations of the three bases.
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Marshall Nirenberg talks about the RNA code for phenylalanine.
After decoding the "easy" codons, Marshall Nirenberg talks about his strategy for decoding the rest.
Marshall Nirenberg and Heinrich Matthaei used poly-U mRNA in a cell-free system to make a polyphenylalanine protein chain. This showed that UUU must be the code that specifies the amino acid phenylalanine.
Marshall Nirenberg talks about cell-free protein synthesis.
DNA has four "letters" that must specify the 20 different amino acids that make up proteins. Combinatorially, using three DNA letters for one amino acid makes the most sense.
Marshall Nirenberg talks about the contributions of Maxine Singer, Marianne Grunberg-Monago and Phil Leder.
Marshall Nirenberg talks about Gobind Khorana, who synthesized many of the triplets needed to finish the decoding process.
Marshall Nirenberg talks about origin of the RNA code.
Paul Zamecnik first developed the cell-free extract system, which Marshall Nirenberg adapted to decipher the genetic code. Paul Zamecnik and Mahlon Hoagland also isolated activated tRNA, the "adaptor" that shuttled amino acids to ribsomes for incorporati
Having made phenylalanine using poly-U mRNA, Marshall Nirenberg still had to prove it. He talks about how he did this with help from a fellow scientist â Michael Siler.