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Matt Bishop November 26 2000 Period 4 AP Biology CODE BREAKERS Hesman Melton Code Breakers Science news VOL 157 June 3 2000 In Peter G Schultzs laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla California remarkable things are taking place They are working on the bacterium Escherichia Coli better known as E Coli Schultz is working with a research group from the University of Texas led by Andrew Ellington They have engineered E Coli with an altered code for translating DNA information into protein They plan to add protein-building materials not found naturally in any living organisms The first bacterium with a laboratory-induced variation in its genetic code was created in 1983 The grass-is-greener theory can now be non-theoretically answered because we will know The new and unusual creatures might help clean up toxic wastes that would kill natural organisms The organisms may also be used to spin polyester or other synthetic polymers Unanticipated advances may stem from this research The new bacterium may tell scientists something about where and how to look for life that may have an unexpected style Expanding the genetic code mat illuminate the evolutionary path by which life arrived at the universal genetic code we have today The genetic alphabet is arranged in 64 three-letter words called codons Each codon stands for one of the 20 amino acids that make up proteins or for one of three stop codons that signal the end of a protein chain Many codons name the same amino acid Biologist Stephen J Freeland of Princeton University has in computer simulations assessed the severity of errors introduced by mutations in a million randomly generated genetic codes and he found that the natural code outperforms almost all of them Nature has had millions of years to experiment with the universal genetic code Human cells have added an amino acid called selenocystine They incorporate this 21st amino acid in response to some
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