RNA can stimulate protein synthesis, Marshall Nirenberg
Interviewee: Marshall Nirenberg.
RNA can stimulate protein synthesis.
Everything, everything fell into place, everything worked. I mean we soon found that adding RNA, which would have been prepared from ribosomes, to cell-free extracts of E. coli stimulated amino acid incorporation into protein. All the controls were there, even though the stimulation was tiny, it was like, like thirty counts per minute above a background of maybe a hundred or eighty counts per minute. It was a small stimulation but it was real, and when I saw that, I mean the very first experiment, I knew it was true, I knew that RNA was stimulating, that template RNA was stimulating cell-free protein synthesis, I jumped for joy because we had really, we had really found that RNA, messenger RNA could stimulate protein synthesis.
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Marshall Nirenberg and Heinrich Matthaei used poly-U mRNA in a cell-free system to make a polyphenylalanine protein chain. This showed that UUU must be the code that specifies the amino acid phenylalanine.
Paul Zamecnik first developed the cell-free extract system, which Marshall Nirenberg adapted to decipher the genetic code. Paul Zamecnik and Mahlon Hoagland also isolated activated tRNA, the "adaptor" that shuttled amino acids to ribsomes for incorporati