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13 March 2014 11:08 am ,
Vol. 343 ,
In the shadow of the crisis in Crimea, Ukrainian legislators are weighing a pair of science and education bills that...
Researchers dependent on government funding would face a flat future under the White House's $3.9 trillion budget...
Reservoirs of cells that harbor HIV DNA woven into human chromosomes have become the bane of researchers trying to cure...
Geochemists have now incorporated in their models some details of the way naturally acidic rainwater dissolves rock...
Schizophrenia is a devastating mental disorder that afflicts about 1% of the world's population at one time or another...
Surface tension is a force to be reckoned with, especially if you are small. It enables a water strider to skate along...
- 13 March 2014 11:08 am , Vol. 343 , #6176
- About Us
Still Splicing After All These Years
8 December 1997 7:00 pm
ScienceNOW wishes a happy 50th birthday to Thomas Cech, a biochemist who helped discover catalytic RNA. In the process, Cech and his colleagues overturned conventional wisdom about the interactions between DNA, RNA, and protein enzymes in the evolution and reproduction of life.
Cech wanted to know how the genetic code in DNA is copied to an RNA template--a process called transcription--and how certain parts of the code are spliced out. During an experiment in 1981, Cech and his colleague Arthur Zaug were surprised to learn that protozoan RNA appeared to splice itself without the help of any enzymes. Their announcement in 1982 of the existence of a "ribozyme"--an RNA molecule capable of catalyzing chemical reactions--upset beliefs about the nature of enzymes, but soon other catalytic RNAs were discovered.
The finding bolstered the idea that RNA was the first important biological molecule to arise in the "primordial soup" and to spur the evolution of life. Catalytic RNAs are now being engineered and tested as potential drugs for treating viral infections. Cech received a share of the 1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and is a deputy editor of Science.
[Source: Emily McMurray, Ed., Notable Twentieth Century Scientists (Gale Research Inc., ITP, 1995).]