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The Not-So-Universal Genetic Code

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Part of the TCSS Symposium

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Nirenberg and Leder’s work on deciphering the genetic code, the manual using which the information stored in the genes is converted into functional protein units. Half a century later, how well do we actually understand this most fundamental feature of all living systems? Despite some claims to the contrary, the genetic code is neither universal nor the most optimal. And how many amino acids are there, actually? (Hint: not 20.) How did the genetic code evolve, and why did it evolve the way it did? Is it still evolving? Can it be engineered? In my talk I will try addressing these questions and discuss what we know, what we think we know, and what we wish we knew about the evolution of the genetic code.

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society (TCSS) series.

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