116 The Universal Genetic Code

116 The Universal Genetic Code


Genetic information is encoded and the genetic code is universal. Here’s a cartoon of 2 subunits of a ribosome translating a messenger RNA into a polypeptide. This could be an E. coli (bacterial) or a human, say liver ribosome. In fact, given the same messenger RNA molecule, either ribosome will make the same polypeptide, that is to say, one with the same amino acid sequence. This is what we really mean by a universal genetic code. How can we explain the fact that all cells have this universal genetic code? And also, by the way, the same basic mechanism for decoding genes…, the same kind of machinery: ribosomes, messenger RNAs and so on.

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