Nucleic Acids

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Stanford University STUDIES! Nucleic Acids, extremely complex molecules produced by living cells and viruses. Their name comes from their initial isolation from the nuclei of living cells. Certain nucleic acids, however, are found not in the cell nucleus but in cell cytoplasm. Nucleic acids have at least two functions: to pass on hereditary characteristics from one generation to the next, and to trigger the manufacture of specific proteins. How nucleic acids accomplish these functions is the object of some of the most intense and promising research currently under way. The nucleic acids are the fundamental substances of living things, believed by researchers to have first been formed about 3 billion years ago, when the most elementary …show more content…

Thus the cell produces proteins that are, in fact, viruses instead of the proteins required for cell function. The host cell is destroyed, and the newly formed viruses are free to inject their RNA into other host cells. The structure of two types of RNA and their function in protein production have been determined, one type by a team of Cornell University and U.S. Department of Agriculture investigators led by Robert W. Holley of Cornell, and the other type by James T. Madison and George A. Everett of the Department of Agriculture. Important research into the interpretation of the genetic code and its role in protein synthesis was also performed by the Indian-born American chemist Har Gobind Khorana at the University of Wisconsin Enzyme Institute and the American biochemist Marshall W. Nirenberg of the National Heart Institute. In 1970 Khorana achieved the first complete synthesis of a gene and repeated his feat in 1973. Since then one type of RNA has been synthesized. Also, in the early 1980s, American biochemists Thomas Robert Cech and Sidney Altman independently proved that certain types of RNA, called ribozymes, can function as true catalysts (see Catalysis). See also

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