Why Has the DNA Code Been Frozen At 20 Amino Acids for 3 Billion Years?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lluís Ribas de Pouplana, Ph.D IRB Barcelona Barcelona 08028

Dr Lluís Ribas

Lluís Ribas de Pouplana, Ph.D
IRB Barcelona
Barcelona 08028

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Ever since the discovery of the genetic code it became obvious that the system had not grown to its full theoretical potential of making proteins with 63 different amino acids.
Francis Crick called the code ‘a frozen accident’,
but it was unclear what had actually froze it.

In this article we offer an explanation to that, and we validate it experimentally.

What we find is that the central pieces of the genetic code, the transfer RNAs,
are unable to incorporate enough specific elements for the system to be able to
use 63 of them without confusion. Since you need a new tRNA for each new
amino acid, once the tRNA identification limit is reached you also reach the
maximum number of usable amino acids. This limit happened to be reached
at 20, and that’s where it has stayed for 3 billion years.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

DNA-CDC-Image Response: It offers a potential explanation to a very central aspect of the origin of life. They could also use it as an example of the limits that evolution does encounter. Not everything is possible, because physics and chemistry lay the boundaries of biology.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Researchers in the field of synthetic biology have always been preoccupied by the possibility to design new tRNAs with new identities. We have shown them that this will be difficult in the context of canonical tRNA architectures, so new strategies must be sought for their purposes.


MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We thank MedicalResearch.com for its interest in what amounts to very fundamental science.

Your willingness to explore our work is very rewarding to us, particularly because we are convinced that the link between fundamental research and applied biomedicine is tenuous, and at any given time projects may jump that imaginary barrier and bring important developments to apparently distant disciplines.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Saturation of recognition elements blocks evolution of new tRNA identities

BY ADÉLAÏDE SAINT-LÉGER, CARLA BELLO, PABLO D. DANS, ADRIAN GABRIEL TORRES, EVA MARIA NOVOA, NOELIA CAMACHO, MODESTO OROZCO, FYODOR A. KONDRASHOV, LLUÍS RIBAS DE POUPLANA

SCIENCE ADVANCES29 APR 2016 : E1501860

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