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Tracking the History of the Genetic Code

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Science  17 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5375, pp. 329
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5375.329

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At the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution held here last month, two speakers presented evidence suggesting that forces other than chance shaped the origin and history of the genetic code. Experiments with RNA have shown that chemical attractions between the genetic material and the components of proteins may have helped shape the original code, reported one speaker. Another researcher, using powerful computer analyses, suggested that the modern code is the product of evolution because it is so error-proof: Only one in a million other possible codes is better at producing a workable protein even when the DNA carries mistakes.