Odyssey 1961: 50 years of the genetic code

Marta M. Gabryelska, Jan Barciszewski


This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the genetic code, which turned out to be universal for all living organisms on earth. In 1961 Marshall Warren Nierenberg and Johann Heinrich Matthaei set up an in vitro translation system composed of purified bacterial ribosomes and a fraction of low molecular weight RNA and demonstrated that polyuridilic acid codes for polyphenylanine. This was how the genetic code started to be revealed. Important developments that led to its discovery and key experience associated with it are very interesting and inspiring area of the history of science. Its influence on the development of biological sciences, especially molecular biology and medicine is indisputable.


genetic code; DNA; RNA; protein biosynthesis

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