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Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday's Molecule #28

Today's molecule looks a little complicated but all we need is the trivial name. If you can supply the correct chemical name that would be impressive

As usual, there's a connection between Monday's molecule and this Wednesday's Nobel Laureate(s). This one is an indirect connection but it should be obvious to anyone who has studied biochemistry/molecular biology.

The reward (free lunch) goes to the person who correctly identifies both the molecule and the Nobel Laureate(s). Previous free lunch winners are ineligible for one month from the time they first collected the prize. There are no ineligible candidates for this Wednesday's reward since recent winners have declined the prize on the grounds that they live in another country and can't make it for lunch on Thursday. (A feeble excuse, in my opinion. )

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  1. Well, molecule is UUU, I mean poly-uridylic acid. And I guess the nobel laureates would be Nirenberg, Matthaei & Khorana who first showed that adding an artificial form of RNA ( like UUU)caused it to make a protein with one amino acid- phenylananine.
    How far am I, off the truth ?

  2. It was only Marshall Warren Nirenberg that got the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for that particular molecule. Matthaei did not get the Nobel, and Khorana did another experiment where he used two alternating nucleotides (C and U) and got a polypeptide of two alternating amino acids (serine and leucine).


  3. I saw you've posted about the Nobel Laureate now, around the time I wrote the previous comment, so you can't see if I looked at that or not.

    What's the chemical name by the way?

  4. I'm going to propose the chemical name of the molecule as Poly(5'-uridylic acid), or poly(uricylic acid) for short. I've had a lot of fun looking up the deails of Marshall Warren Nirenberg's work. There's a good show at Deciphering the Genetic Code at NIH.

    Cheers -- Chris

  5. Argh. I can see the difference between what Larry has illustrated, and what shows up as Polyuridylic acid in the databases at nih... and I can't locate a name for what Larry has shown.

  6. OK... here's a guess: Polyuridylate.

  7. Bingo. Now I'm sure of it. In H. Gorbind Khorana's Nobel lecture (he shared the prize in 1968 with Holley and Nirenberg) he says:
    The discovery which introduced a direct experimental attack on the genetic code was that of Matthaei and Nirenberg who observed that polyuridylate directs the synthesis of polyphenylalanine in the bacterial cell-free amino acid incorporating system.

    As others have observed, it is Nirenberg who has the strongest link to this molecule.