Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cool genetics stuff.

Everyone knows we DNA. Or at least I hope they do. Really really seriously hope they do. The devil's in the details. Basically, proteins are the bits in the cell that do most of the work inside cells. Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids. Your DNA has 4 different nucleotides, a set of 3 nucleotides can code for an amino acid. If you do the maths though, each of the 3 positions can have any of the 4 different nucleotides in it. Which gives you 4x4x4 different codes, which is 64 different possibilities. Somewhat more than the 20 different amino acids, so there is some redundancy, as in some of the amino acids have more than one code coding for them. One of the 64 codes acts as a starting point, several also act as a stop code. If you think about it though, which somebody obviously has, you only really need one code for a stop code.
There's a bunch of researchers at Yale, who have removed all the redundancy in the stop codons, so that there was only one stop codon. Which is cool enough. For an encore though, they're trying to get the stop codons that aren't used any more, to code for different amino acids. New ones. As in ones that aren't currently used. So instead of having proteins starting out with 20 different types of amino acids, there would be a starting line up of 21. Masses of new proteins available to do all sorts of new cool things that couldn't be done before. I'm not sure what more I can say to communicate exactly how stupendously cool this is.

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