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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- 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).]