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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Monday's Molecule #128: Winners

The molecule was progesterone and the official complete IUPAC name is 8S,9S,10R,13S,14S,17S)-17-acetyl-10,13-dimethyl-1,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17-dodecahydro-2H-cyclopenta[a]phenanthren-3(6H)-one. Progesterone is a female sex hormone that controls the maintenance of the endometrial lining during pregnancy.

The Nobel Laureate who worked out the structure of progesterone was Johann Butenandt.

Dara Gilbert of the University of Waterloo was the first person to get the correct answers using the abbreviated IUPAC name. This week there's a special award to Anne Johnson of Ryerson University for supplying the complete IUPAC name as well as the most complete description of the function of progesterone and additional information on the Nobel Laureate.

Name this molecule. Include the IUPAC name and a brief description of its function.

One Nobel Laureate got the prize for contributions to organic chemistry, including working out the structure of this molecule.

The first person to identify the molecule and the Nobel Laureate, wins a free lunch. Previous winners are ineligible for six weeks from the time they first won the prize.

There are seven ineligible candidates for this week's reward: Òscar Reig of Barcelona, Maria Altshuler of the University of Toronto, Mike Fraser of the University of Toronto, Jaseon Oakley of the University of Toronto, Bill Chaney of the University of Nebraska, Ian Clarke of New England Biolabs Canada in Pickering ON, Canada and Dima Klenchin of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Dima has donated his free lunch to a deserving undergraduate so I'm going to continue to award an additional free lunch to the first undergraduate student who can accept it. Please indicate in your email message whether you are an undergraduate and whether you can make it for lunch.


Nobel Laureates
Send your guess to Sandwalk (sandwalk (at) and I'll pick the first email message that correctly identifies the molecule(s) and names the Nobel Laureate(s). Note that I'm not going to repeat Nobel Prizes so you might want to check the list of previous Sandwalk postings by clicking on the link in the theme box.

Correct responses will be posted tomorrow.

Comments will be blocked for 24 hours. Comments are now open.


  1. "Junk DNA" my ass...

    "The ENCODE consortium's major findings include the discovery that the majority of DNA in the human genome is transcribed into functional molecules, called RNA, and that these transcripts extensively overlap one another. This broad pattern of transcription challenges the long-standing view that the human genome consists of a relatively small set of discrete genes, along with a vast amount of so-called junk DNA that is not biologically active."



  2. I'd like to see one person that I've engaged on this subject over the years have the balls to come forward and say "you know what, Charlie, you were right."

    I'm not holding my breath waiting. I'm just glad that I have something in common with one of my heroes, Barbara McClintock: I lived long enough to say "I told you so"

  3. ENCODE's findings are old news, man

  4. I'm sure Barbara McClintock, were she still alive, would agree that transposable elements are junk DNA.

  5. "ENCODE's findings are old news, man"

    True enough...2007

    So why are Larry ( and many others still clinging to the myth of "junk DNA"? Do they not read the literature?

  6. Transposable elements (TEs), also known as "jumping genes" or transposons, are sequences of DNA that move (or jump) from one location in the genome to another. Maize geneticist Barbara McClintock discovered TEs in the 1940s, and for decades thereafter, most scientists dismissed transposons as useless or "junk" DNA. McClintock, however, was among the first researchers to suggest that these mysterious mobile elements of the genome might play some kind of regulatory role, determining which genes are turned on and when this activation takes place" (McClintock, 1965).

    Transposons are not "junk". McClintock knew that, although she couldn't prove it.

    Transposons, or Jumping Genes: Not Junk DNA?
    By: Leslie Pray, Ph.D. © 2008 Nature Education
    Citation: Pray, L. (2008) "Transposons, or jumping genes: Not junk DNA? Nature Education 1(1)

    LINES, SINES and transposons are not "junk" and now we know it.

  7. I'm not a cricket, what are you talking about