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Letters to Nature
Nature 173, 318 (13 February 1954); doi:10.1038/173318a0

Possible Relation between Deoxyribonucleic Acid and Protein Structures


George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Oct. 22.

IN a communication in Nature of May 30, p. 964, J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick showed that the molecule of deoxyribonucleic acid, which can be considered as a chromosome fibre, consists of two parallel chains formed by only four different kinds of nucleotides. These are either (1) adenine, or (2) thymine, or (3) guanine, or (4) cytosine with sugar and phosphate molecules attached to them. Thus the hereditary properties of any given organism could be characterized by a long number written in a four-digital system. On the other hand, the enzymes (proteins), the composition of which must be completely determined by the deoxyribonucleic acid molecule, are long peptide chains formed by about twenty different kinds of amino-acids, and can be considered as long ‘words’ based on a 20-letter alphabet. Thus the question arises about the way in which four-digital numbers can be translated into such ‘words’.

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