Do you know that today is the birthday of the famous scientist Robert William Holley …??
Robert William Holley was an American biochemist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 (with Har Gobind Khorana and Marshall Warren Nirenberg) for describing the structure of alanine transfer RNA, linking DNA and protein synthesis.Holley’s research on RNA focused first on isolating transfer RNA (tRNA), and later on determining the sequence and structure of alanine tRNA, the molecule that incorporates the amino acid alanine into proteins. Holley’s team of researchers determined the tRNA’s structure by using two ribonucleases to split the tRNA molecule into pieces. Each enzyme split the molecule at location points for specific nucleotides. By a process of “puzzling out” the structure of the pieces split by the two different enzymes, then comparing the pieces from both enzyme splits, the team eventually determined the entire structure of the molecule.
The structure was completed in 1964, and was a key discovery in explaining the synthesis of proteins from messenger RNA. It was also the first nucleotide sequence of a ribonucleic acid ever determined
Hargobind Khorana was an Indian-American biochemist who shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for research that helped to show how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell, control the cell’s synthesis of proteins. Khorana and Nirenberg were also awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in the same year.He was born in Raipur, British India (today Tehsil Kabirwala Punjab Pakistan) and became a naturalized citizen of the United Statesin 1966, and subsequently received the National Medal of Science. He served as MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry, Emeritus and was a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) with three repeating units (UCUCUCU → UCU CUC UCU) produced two alternating amino acids. This, combined with the Nirenberg and Leder experiment, showed that UCU codes for Serine and CUC codes for Leucine. RNAs with three repeating units (UACUACUA → UAC UAC UAC, or ACU ACU ACU, or CUA CUA CUA) produced three different strings of amino acids. RNAs with four repeating units, including UAG, UAA, or UGA, produced only dipeptides and tripeptides thus revealing that UAG, UAA and UGA are stop codons.
With this, Khorana and his team had established that the mother of all codes, the biological language common to all living organisms, is spelled out in three-letter words: each set of three nucleotides codes for a specific amino acid. Their Nobel lecture was delivered on December 12, 1968. Khorana was the first scientist to chemically synthesize oligonucleotides.
MyRank wishes a very happy birthday to Robert William Holley, who is the main person behind the structure of RNA and protein synthesis…