Genetic Code: Emergence of a Symmetrical Pattern

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Science  03 May 1963:
Vol. 140, Issue 3566, pp. 477-481
DOI: 10.1126/science.140.3566.477


The triplets of nucleotides which apparently specify the detailed structure of proteins fall into a regular pattern: the 64 combinations of four nucleotides taken three at a time, are resolved into 32 pairs. The second member of each pair is identical with the first, except that in one position a purine is replaced by the other purine or a pyrimidine by the other pyrimidine. Almost all of the reported triplets fit into this pattern, and from it one can predict which amino acids will be found to correspond to the remaining 19 unidentified triplets. This pattern accounts for several of the observations concerning regularities in the data, partially determines the order of the nucleotides in each triplet, and suggests a structural basis for transfer RNA specificity.