The Nirenberg and Matthaei experiment was a scientific experiment performed on May 15, 1961, by Marshall W. Nirenberg and his post doctoral fellow, Heinrich J. Matthaei. The experiment cracked the genetic code by using nucleic acid homopolymers to translate specific amino acids.
The Nirenberg and Leder experiment was a scientific experiment performed in 1964 by Marshall W. Nirenberg and Philip Leder. The experiment elucidated the triplet nature of the genetic code and allowed the remaining ambiguous codons in the genetic code to be deciphered.
Nevertheless, the problem of the genetic code at least in the restricted one-dimensional sense (the linear correlation of the nucleotide sequence of polynucleotides with that of the amino acid sequence of polypeptides) would appear to have been solved.
In the years after 1953, scientists scrambled to be the first to decipher the genetic code. In an attempt to make the race interesting, theoretical physicist and astronomer George Gamow came up with a plan. He organized an exclusive club, the “RNA Tie Club,” in which each member would put forward ideas as to how the nucleotide bases were translated into proteins in the body’s cells. His club had twenty hand-picked members, one for each amino acid, and each wore a tie marked with the symbol of that amino acid. The group—which did not include Marshall Nirenberg—met several times during the 1950s but did not manage to be the first to break the code.
Genetic memory resides in specific molecules of nucleic acid. The information is encoded in the form of a linear sequence of bases of 4 varieties that corresponds to sequences of 20 varieties of amino acids in protein. The translation from nucleic acid to protein proceeds in a sequential fashion according to a systematic code with relatively simple rules. Each unit of nucleic acid defines the species of molecule to be selected, its position relative to the previous molecule selected, and the time of the event relative to the previous event. The nucleic acid therefore functions both as a template for other molecules and as a biological clock. The information is encoded and decoded in the form of a one-dimensional string. The polypeptide translation product then folds upon itself in a specific manner predetermined by the amino acid sequence, forming a complex, three-dimensional protein.
Scads of scientists. Two Nobel Prizes. Isn’t consensus science grand?
“…the fact is that present life requires semiotic control by coded gene strings.”
– Howard H. Pattee